Martin Martinez, dying Marine
FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY: DYING MARINE’S FINAL WISH GRANTED
Posted on October 2, 2010 at 12:18am by Meredith Jessup
A former Marine and Desert Storm veteran with little time left to live has become the recipient of grateful citizens’ outpouring of support and generosity — all in hopes of granting one man’s final wish.
Martin Martinez began having seizures about five years ago and, after some medical tests, doctors diagnosed him with multiple brain tumors. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments helped Martinez enter remission and he seemed to be on the way to full recovery when the seizures returned in January. After another round of tests, his doctors delivered the 46-year-old veteran with some sobering news: the cancer had returned and this time it was terminal.
The nursing staff of Harbour Hospice of Bexar County, Texas, has helped Martinez find comfort in the time since his tragic diagnosis. “I‘m just living one day at a time that’s all I can do,” Martinez has said.
When his hospice case manager, Barbara Kirk, asked him last month if he had any final wishes, he named two. The first was to be reunited one last time with his kids whom he hadn’t seen since his divorce six years ago. After the Harbour Hospice nurses helped grant this wish, they turned to the next.
“The second (wish) was just to go out to the mountains again and have one last time under the stars and a campfire and get along with nature once again,” Martinez said.
Kirk took it upon herself to make sure this final wish was fulfilled. Kirk, a former Air Force nurse herself with two children currently serving in the military, says she’s felt a connection to Martinez because of his service to his country and wanted to what she could to help. “He’s just been a joy to take care of, he has the sweetest spirit and has just an incredible outlook on life and this is his deck of cards and he has to play them,” Kirk told local ABC affiliate KSAT.
Kirk reached out to her network of friends around the country. One of them was Allyson McKensey of Blount County, Tennessee. McKensey’s son Nicholas had served in Afghanistan and returned to the U.S. with extensive injuries. After his return, McKensey received an outpouring of support via Facebook where she met Kirk.
Kirk contacted McKensey about helping make Martinez’s wish a reality. “I can show some of the love that has been given to our family to another soldier,” McKensey said. McKensey was charged with finding lodging accommodations and first said Martinez could stay at her family’s home, but then got the idea to see if she could get a discount on a cabin rental.
McKensey reached out to Billie Pass, the owner of River Bluff Cabins in Townsend. “[McKensey] told me about a Marine and his wish to come to the Smoky Mountains, just breath in the fresh air and go trout fishing. She said ‘pay if forward,’ that is a favorite terminology in our family, and when she said that it really caught my attention.” Pass donated a mountain cabin for Martinez and his fiance to stay in.
Meanwhile, Kirk’s employer donated an airline ticket to fly the ailing vet for an all-expenses paid weekend in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.
Martinez landed Friday afternoon at McGhee Tyson Airport in east Tennessee and received a hero’s welcome from local residents and the American Veterans Empowerment Team (AVET), a Florida-based charitable group that helps to organize volunteer efforts to honor active and former military members. Others in the community also stepped forward to help Martinez, including a local restaurant and chauffeur service who donated his meals and limo transportation from the airport.
Martinez says he’s overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. “It restored my faith back in people again ’cause, all of a sudden, from one minute to the other, everybody pulled it together, not knowing me, not knowing each other, and they’re still standing together, united,” he said. “If we can do that every single day, just help one person, imagine how many people we can be united to help everything turn around.”
“If we sit down and give up, well, we’re going to give up for good, but if we keep going and try to make somebody smile just one more day, that gives me one more day of strength to keep on going,” he said. “And I’m not ready to go yet, but then again, whenever they’re ready for me up there, I’m ready.”
via Faith, Hope and Charity: Dying Marine’s Final Wish Granted | The Blaze.