LOCUST GROVE, Ga. - A Henry County school community is supporting devastated students during a difficult week after a 12-year-old lost his battle with brain cancer.
Teacher Debbie Belisario told Channel 2's Linda Stouffer that Isiah Martin started sixth grade with a smile.
"He was loved. He wasn't just liked, he was loved," Belisario said.
Over the last year and a half, teachers and classmates watched a rare brain tumor muffle his abilities. He was determined to stay active.
First Isaiah lost control of his hands.
"The side of his body was uncoordinated and I wanted to be the gentle guy that said that 'It's OK Isaiah. Its OK.' He said, 'No it's not, Mr. Formby. I got to get this done,'" Isaiah's teacher Jim Formby told Stouffer.
And Isaiah didn't even believe his doctors when they told him he had months to live.
"He was going to live longer to prove him wrong, and he did," Belisario said.
Isaiah was last in the halls of Luella Middle School last May. He wanted to start seventh grade this year, but he was just too sick. Even then he asked for his schedule.
Henry County 6th, 7th and 8th graders showed their determination too with a Team Isaiah Relay for Life.
This week those same classmates are now making condolence cards. Wednesday night family and friends said goodbye.
"He can't be with us in person but he's still here with us. As long as we talk about him and remember him, he's with us," Formby said.
There was no money for a proper funeral but someone donated a burial plot to Isaiah's family.
Now, Team Isaiah is determined to raise funds for a service that will celebrate the life of a boy who changed theirs.
"I told him, 'I wish I'd taught him half as much as he taught me.' And his response was
'How could I? I'm only a kid coach.' And I told him he was wise way beyond his years," Formby said.
"He's one little life that's just made such a ripple effect on this school and this community, and I think his life has purpose for that and I don't want people to forget it," Belisario said.
If you would like to donate to the Isaiah Martin memorial fund, please click here.