Chandler couple bringing joy to kids with cancer - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler couple bringing joy to kids with cancer

September 23rd, 2019 development
Chandler couple bringing joy to kids with cancer

By Torrence Dunham

Before he died last year, Arthur Montano had a plan to bring some joy to children who were battling cancer through the stuffed animals he received when he was undergoing chemotherapy.

He never had the chance to realize his dream because he died last year from bone marrow transplant complications.

Now his daughter, Candace Tucker, and her husband Michael, of Chandler, are making his dream come true.

Montano was diagnosed with leukemia in October 2017. While he was going through chemotherapy his wife brought bring him a stuffed animal every day.

Once he finished treatment, he wanted to take those stuffed animals to the children who had to undergo the same therapy.

“Everybody’s compassionate about (cancer), but when you go through it yourself and you really understand the pain and the suffering people go through with treatments, it affected him even more so,” Candace explained, adding:

“What motivated him to get well was his hopes of being able to deliver toys to the kids going through cancer and give them support, encouragement and comfort.”

The Tuckers have dubbed their gifts “Art’s Angels” and work with Cancer Support Community Arizona to gladden the hearts of the children.

“It’s keeping his spirit alive,” Candace said. “One of the best things about my dad was his smile, his energy and his presence. He could walk into any room and just make people smile and light up. When he passed away, it kind of seemed like the world was a little bit more dimmer that day.”

“My goal as his daughter was to try as much as I can to carry on the smiles that he brought to the world, just the light that he had,” she added.

After struggling to find a footing with local hospitals to launch the program, friends suggested they contact Cancer Support Community Arizona.

“We met up with them and they just welcomed us with open arms and did everything from talking to us about how to start a program and providing the tools and materials needed to do that,” Candace said.

The couple hand out stuffed animals to children and teens at the organization’s events.

While in the hospital with Montano, Candance and Michael noticed the mood of children and teens in the hospital would change when being handed a stuffed animal.

“There’s this very quick change, the very moment where the kids’ eyes light up when they grab the stuffed animal, it’s like they have a new best friend,” Michael said. “When we first felt that in the hospital, we knew we really focused energy. We had to keep recreating that.”

“We noticed that every time we’ve done this with the cancer support community and one outside of their group, it’s the same reaction every time,” Michael continued, adding:

“Little kids – even teenage kids – seem to gravitate toward that innocence that stuffed animals or little toys give. Almost like they create their own personality in that inanimate object that they can relate to. So that’s been our goal is to create that moment of happiness, innocence back with some of these kids.”

The Tuckers buy the stuffed animals with their own money and urge others to support their efforts by donating to Cancer Support Community Arizona.

Indeed, when they married Sept. 12, they asked guests to give to the organization instead of giving them wedding presents.

People who want to support the program can contact McKenzie Simmons at 602-712-1006 or by email at