A dying 8-year-old boy who has just a few days left to live became an honorary U.S. Marine on Tuesday.
His father, 29-year-old Marine drill instructor Jeremiah Gillette, saw his son for the first time after he returned home from serving in Iraq eight years ago.
“When I arrived back, I had maybe two weeks of normalcy, if you can call it that, and he became real irritable,” he told the news outlet.
After four years, Wyatt was diagnosed and is now on daily dialysis and takes 15 medications a day.
“He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met,” he said. “He’s the toughest person I’ve ever met.”
With his son moving into hospice care – barely able to open his eyes and expected to only live five to 14 more days – Gillette reached out to fellow Marines asking for prayers. He and Wyatt’s mother, Felishia Gillette, were stunned by the response.
“I just started crying,” she said. “So many people and strangers took an interest.”
One of those strangers was Marine Anthony North, who created a petition on Change.org to have Wyatt become an honorary Marine.
“I truly feel that Wyatt has faced more hardship than any Marine has gone through, and for that should be given the title,” North wrote on the website. “Wyatt to be awarded with this title, the Commandant of the Marine Corps must approve it.”
Within days, the online petition gained thousands of names, and on Tuesday, North took to Facebook with good news.
It’s one milestone Jeremiah thought his son would one day achieve.
“I’ve had two goals in my lifetime – to be a Marine and to be a drill instructor… He’s just got that spirit that I think he would have joined the Marine Corps as well,” he said.
Adds Felishia: “It’s going to be difficult because no parent wants to say goodbye to their kid.”
Said Jeremiah, “He’s taught me love. He’s taught me to see the good in people.”