A 7-year-old boy who became an honorary Marine over the weekend died as a result of his fight against Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.
On Sunday, just one day after being the 92nd person to receive the special honor, Wyatt Gillette died "peaceful and pain free," his father said in a Facebook post.
Wyatt was diagnosed with the rare disease when he was 4 years old. The condition affects the brain, immune system and skin. He had dealt with hypertension, kidney failure and other issues. As a result of his worsening condition over the past year, his parents, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Gillette and Felishia Gillette, reached out to friends and family on social media for support.
That quickly turned in to a group petition asking the Marine Corps to honor the little warrior. On Saturday, after the Marines approved the request, Wyatt was awarded the honorary title during a ceremony at the Marine Corps Base Camp in Pendleton, Calif.
"You have fought long and hard for yourself and your family, and your strength has inspired all of us that are here today," First Sgt. Cristo Gomez told the boy during the ceremony. "You have proven that you have what it takes to become part of America's warrior elite, and you have earned the title of honorary Marine."
One of the easiest decisions yet as CMC was to make this 8-yr old a Marine. Keep fighting, Wyatt! You are a Marine! pic.twitter.com/bSDrEHcc3c— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) July 30, 2016
His father said the ceremony meant the world to Wyatt.
"With everything going on around the world today, and especially in our country, this is kind of a breath of fresh air," his father said during the ceremony. "It's restored my faith in humanity, and a little bit in what our country stands for."
A crowdfunding campaign had raised $27,000 for the family as of Tuesday afternoon.