When 15-year-old track and cross country star Nahum Martinez was shot dead early Saturday morning, the Dallas-Fort Worth area community was understandably stunned. On Sunday, after already gathering for a traditional memorial, Martinez's friends and family got together for a truly appropriate and inspiring way to honor the teenager's memory: They had an impromptu memorial run that traced his daily training route.
As reported by Dallas-Fort Worth network WFAA and CBSDFW, among other sources, a group of nearly 200 teenagers gathered at Wylie (Texas) High, where Martinez was a budding track and cross country runner, to tackle the training rout he covered nearly every day. The event served as a way to remember Martinez for his deep love of being a part of the school's cross country squad just hours after he was shot dead and two 14 year olds were taken into custody in connection with his death.
"When you're a team, you're a family," Martinez friend Kalynn Balssingame told WFAA. "We just looked at each other and realized our family needs to be together right now; we need to go run because that's what we do."
For Martinez's best friend in particular, Wylie student Grant Buley, the spur of the moment memorial run was an emotional way to connect with his closest running partner.
"His dad said, 'You know, every time you run, you know he is going to be right there with you, pushing along,'" Buley told CBSDFW. "I think Nahum was telling me to go more [during Sunday's run]. I just kept on running."
So did plenty of other Wylie teens on a Sunday evening when most would have otherwise been home relaxing and preparing to return to school on Monday.
Instead, they were brought together to remember a friend who had openly dreamed of success on the track and, he hoped, a future at the University of Texas. As a sign carried by the victim's father read, while Martinez may have been absent in body, he was very much present in spirit.
"He was always positive," Wylie track teammate Edwin Walker told WFAA. "That's the reason I was in track ... it was all because of him. He changed my life."