An 8-year-old California boy with a rare disease died Sunday – just one day after becoming an honorary U.S. Marine.

Wyatt Gillette had Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome Type 1, a disease that causes kidney failure and eventually leads to death.

His father, 29-year-old Marine drill instructor Jeremiah Gillette, reached out to fellow Marines asking for prayers when his son moved into hospice care.

He and Wyatt’s mother, Felishia Gillette, were stunned by the response.

“I just started crying,” Felishia 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.

SOFREP Books: A Way Forward, My Years in the Marine Corps

Read Next: SOFREP Books: A Way Forward, My Years in the Marine Corps

Within days, the online petition gained thousands of names, and the U.S. Marine Corps granted the impassioned request.

Wyatt’s proud parents watched as their son was honored in a moving ceremony at Camp Pendleton on Saturday.

“He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met,” Jeremiah told ABC7. “He’s the toughest person I’ve ever met.”

Read more at MSN

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org