PHOENIX — Coming to grips with a heartbreaking loss... A beloved middle school coach in the Valley has lost his fight with COVID-19.
Jose Quiñones, known as 'Coach Q' around town, leaves behind a long-lasting impact on his players and the community.
"It's hard. It's really hard,” Stefanie Quiñones told ABC15.
Stefanie still can't believe the love of her life, her husband, is gone.
"We thought that things were okay, and then it just took…a turn for the worst," she added.
Stefanie says Jose was an athletic director, a coach, and a special education teacher at Imagine Desert West, the same middle school where she teaches.
Now, they're preparing for his celebration of life on Saturday.
"He was my best friend, and we spent every moment together and a part of me feels like maybe he'll come home and I know that that's so crazy," said Stephanie in tears.
Maria Quiñones is also a teacher at the same school where her son, Jose, worked.
"He was only 27 years old, but he did a lot," added Maria.
She says Jose was her pride and joy, always helping shape the lives of young student-athletes.
"It was always about building these kids to be good kids in the future, and he wanted them to know they could do whatever they set their minds to," said Stefanie.
After seeing the overwhelming support of the community, they tell ABC15, there's no doubt Jose made a difference.
His mom says the things she will miss the most are, "his smile, his hugs. A mother's pride," said Maria.
"He was just an amazing person, and he truly had a heart of gold," added her daughter-in-law.
While their guiding light is no longer here, Jose's family says they take comfort knowing his legacy will forever live on through all the lives he changed.
"Nothing will ever replace the loss of a child, but I know he's okay," said Maria in tears.
"I love him more than the moon, and the stars in the sky. That's what he'd always tell me and what I'd always tell him," Stefanie added.
"To the greatest coach of all time, thank you and rest in peace," said Jose’s mom.
Stefanie says she will hold their two dogs closer than ever, as she walks into her home, knowing Jose adored their fur babies.
The family has made an online fundraiser to help pay for memorial service/funeral expenses.