SANTA MONICA ( —   Hundreds of people walked to raise awareness about Williams Syndrome Saturday in Santa Monica.

It’s an annual walk but this year organizers also chose to honor someone who was unable to participate — 8-year-old Jonathan Martinez.

The young boy was gunned down in the elementary school shooting in San Bernardino. And he had Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects one in 10,000 children.

“We lost a member of our family,” said Terry Monkaba of the Williams Syndrome Association.

“By asking that Jonathan’s legacy be increased awareness for Williams Syndrome they helped every one of us, every and one of our children,” said Monkaba.

The they she was referring to, Martinez’ parents. The crowd also  honored them for speaking up and out for the disorder. They were brought to tears by the gesture.

“Thanks to all the prayers we’re still standing,” said Alfredo Martinez, Jonathan’s dad.

RELATED LINK: Student Killed In San Bernardino School Shooting Endured Great Deal In Short Life

Alfredo and Florina Martinez are not ready to talk about the crime that took their son’s life but they want the world to know more about the disorder that shaped his life.

“They hug you and kiss you and tell you ‘I love you for everything’. There’s a joy. It’s like winning the lottery when you have one of those kids in your family,” said Karina Martinez, Jonathan’s aunt.

A sentiment echoed by many parents in the crowd.

“My son Cameron is the best. He’s amazing He’s got love for everybody. He smiles, he laughs —  happiest kid you’ve ever met.” said dad Curtis Short.

Many children with Williams Syndrome have cardiac issues and learning disabilities.

Their families are looking for acceptance.

“You see a kid with Williams Syndrome, go shake his hand and say hello,” said Short.

That understanding can only come through education.

“To love them and to understand them,” said Karina.

As the Martinez family finds the strength to move forward, they hope Jonathan’s death will help other kids like him, live.

  1. Katelyn Phelps says:

    Everything this short story I guess is so true. Especially all the parts about Jonathan Martinez. I know this because he used to go to my elementary school Vermont Elementary. He was the bestest friend I could’ve ever asked. And when I heard on the news a student at North Park elementary was shot and killed and they said Jonathan Martinez I was just thinking to myself it can’t be my best friend they are talking about. But then they showed the picture of him and honestly I could do nothing but cry. And then about a week later my school Vermont brought teddy bears for everybody to remember him I just looked at the teddy bear and hugged it and cried because one of my favorite things about Jonathan was that he loved stuffed teddy bears. So when I got mine I just looked at it and cried because not only was it is favorite stuffed animal it was also his favorite color blue. And to this day I wander why did that guy shoot his estranged wife and a kid who was only eight years old. He will be dearly missed and loved by so many. I love you Jonathan. Forever and always your best friend Katelyn.

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