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Soquel High School Students fight through an onslaught of flying rubber balls during a game of dodgeball at Soquel High School Monday afternoon. The game is part of a larger tournament organized by the Soquel High Red Cross Club as a fundraiser for Jeremy Montes, a student who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia (Matthew Hintz/Sentinel).

SOQUEL -- Jeremy Montes is known to his friends and classmates as a serious fighter.

The Soquel High School senior is a fourth-degree blue belt in jiujitsu. When he was diagnosed with leukemia in December, his classmates and fellow athletes jumped into action to support him in the fight.

Montes, 18, has won two world medals while studying Brazilian jiujitsu under Claudio França of Santa Cruz. His training partner of five years, Denise Henry, created a fundraising campaign through GoFundMe.com called "Tap Out Leukemia" to help pay for his treatment. The martial arts term "tap out" refers to an opponent's signal of surrender when defeated.

This week, Soquel High School students launched a sports tournament to raise more money for the cause. Montes' friend and classmate Tyler Ayers-Nusbaum organized the event, with help from Red Cross Club presidents Hanna Hutchison and Lila Villigran.

"I thought it would suit him well to have a sports tournament," said Ayers-Nusbaum, who played football with Montes. He mentioned the tournament to Montes a few weeks ago, and said he "was really stoked about the idea."

Montes' outpatient chemotherapy treatment has been progressing at Stanford Hospital, but he was admitted Saturday for a critically low white blood cell count and remains in the hospital.

"It's a continuous battle right now," said his father, Jeremy Montes Sr.


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Montes has been keeping a blog to share his struggles and progress with friends. "I have 3-4 years of chemo ahead of me and need all the support I can get," he wrote on Feb. 2. "All I can do is stay positive and keep taking healthy steps towards recovery."

When Montes mentioned wanting a juicer for his raw vegetable regimen, several people reached out immediately to offer him one, Henry said.

Montes' classmates at Soquel High School convened in the gym Monday for the first game in an ongoing dodge ball tournament. Music blared as two teams squared off, and the Red Cross Club manned a table of cupcakes and cookies to raise money.

Teams will compete throughout the school year at dodge ball, flag football, capture the flag and kickball during their 12:25 p.m. lunch break. Events are open to the public, and proceeds from the $1 admission and refreshments will go to Montes' family.

According to the fundraising website, more than 100 people have donated so far, raising $8,201. Montes Sr. said the financial support has been very helpful, because certain treatments aren't covered by insurance. Henry hopes to reach $20,000, and to continue providing Montes with moral support through a Facebook page.

Henry also is organizing teaching seminars with jiujitsu masters to support "Tap Out Leukemia."

Even though Montes was new to Soquel High School, transferring from Cypress High School in the fall of 2012, his girlfriend Noelle Neff said that he has many friends and supporters on campus. Their efforts have meant a lot to him, she said, but "he's one of those guys that doesn't like it when people feel sorry for him."

Despite having to withdraw from Soquel to continue his education through an independent studies program, Neff said, Montes is set to graduate next month, ahead of schedule.

On the net


Fundraiser website: www.gofundme.com/JerTapsLeukemia
Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/V3lPhY
Jeremy Montes' blog:

http://jeremymontes.wordpress.com