Jonathan Martinez is a happy, energetic young man who has come across a tough break.
Known by the nickname "Tan-Tan" to his co-workers at Rancho Viejo Mexican Restaurant (and formerly to his co-workers at Margarita's), Martinez is well liked by everyone.
"He's always smiling," said his sister, Elena Vega. "He's a really humble, amazing person."
Martinez, 24, was diagnosed with germ cell cancer in December. The cancer was successfully removed, and he enjoyed a period of remarkable recovery until he returned to the doctor for a follow-up in March. It was then that he was diagnosed with spindle cell cancer, which was found around his liver.
He is now in hospice at Batavia's Crossroads House. Things are tough, but he has a positive attitude and is confident that he can beat the cancer.
There is a benefit fundraiser for Martinez today at Austin Park, at the corner of Washington and Jefferson Avenues in Batavia. It started at 1 p.m. and will last until dusk. There is no admission fee, but donations will be collected.
Live music will be featured, including performances by Soulcraft and Amos Williams. Jerry Smith, known in local circles as "Honeybun," will be the master of ceremonies.
Donations will be used to help with the medical expenses of Martinez' treatment, which are quite daunting.
"It's really expensive," Vega said. "We haven't paid for anything yet."
Services from the past seven months for which Martinez' family must still pay include chemotherapy, surgery, X-rays, CAT scans, biopsies and blood transfusions (Vega said her brother's cell count is still very low).
Throughout all the challenges he has come to face, Martinez has been sustained by the love he has for his family -- especially his 3-year-old daughter, Jonelis (pictured).
"He keeps saying he's going to 'come out standing like a rock for his baby girl,' " Vega said. "She is his life."
Martinez' faith has also been key to his positive outlook.
"He has tremendous faith in God," Vega said. "We know there's a purpose in this. We're just waiting for a miracle."
Photo taken by Nelle Williams