LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The 8-year-old student killed by a gunman in a classroom at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino on Monday endured a great deal in his short life.
Jonathan Martinez was born with a rare genetic condition called Williams syndrome, had heart surgeries and lived with developmental delays.
While grieving for their only son, the boy’s parents asked school officials to tell the world about the condition that landed their child in the special-needs classroom, where he was killed.
“The family wants, in memory of Johnathan, for our nation to be aware and conscious of what is Williams syndrome,” San Bernardino Unified City School District Superintendent Dale Marsden said. “Unlike disorders that can make connecting with your child difficult, children with Williams syndrome tend to be social, friendly and endearing.”
Williams syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by a series of medical problems, including heart disease, developmental delays, learning disabilities, kidney issues and hypertension.
The Williams Syndrome Association released a statement Tuesday on the family’s desire to help bring awareness to the rare and potentially fatal disease.
“In a world where individuals are against one another and taking deadly actions every day, we could all learn a great deal from those with Williams syndrome whose most extraordinary gift is the gift of natural joy and understanding, and their incredible ability to share their joy with everyone they meet.”
Williams syndrome affects 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States, according to the Williams Syndrome Association.
A Gofundme page has been set up to help pay for Martinez’s funeral.