The Binghamton University community learned of the death of Max Martinez from a Dateline announcement sent shortly after 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29. Just a day later, hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil that was held in Downtown Binghamton in his commemoration.
Martinez, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law from New York City, was a member of the Binghamton University Marketing Association. The University has not released information regarding his cause of death. On Sunday, speakers at his vigil talked about Martinez’s passion to make others smile and how special he was.
“He was selfless and perfect to his core, and I have never met anyone like him,” one speaker said. “He came into my life at a time when I needed him most, and I’m happy knowing today that I could put a smile on his face whenever he needed it. Not a moment will go by that I won’t think of you, Max, and I will miss you with every breath I take.”
Another speaker said although it is uncertain where Martinez’s life could have led, those mourning him should not feel guilt in his absence.
“While it is easy to blame ourselves, I want everyone to know that Max was the type of friend that told you everything about his life — and the last thing anyone should feel is that we could have done more, because I find us all here at this event and everyone here, in some way, was checking up on him,” the speaker said. “As we’ve been speaking among each other the past few days, the recurring theme has been how much we admired him for being able to get up every day and put on that bright smile we all know and love. We haven’t been able to wrap our minds around what motivated him to wake up every morning, but standing here, and looking at everyone, I understand that all of you are the reason.”
On Saturday, Zachary Rigano, a friend of Martinez and a first-year graduate student studying business administration, started a GoFundMe page to raise the money needed to cover funeral expenses and any other costs the Martinez family might come across.
“Yesterday we lost the greatest soul any of us have ever known,” Rigano wrote in the GoFundMe description. “Max was the definition of an incredible person; he had the ability to make light of every situation and was the happiest, most go-lucky person who never failed to bring positive energy. His personality, smile and laugh were infectious. Anyone who ever spent more than 30 seconds with Max felt a deep bond of friendship and love for him.”
With an initial goal of $15,000, the fundraiser had more than 1,000 donors within the first 24 hours, raising over $48,000 by Sunday evening.
“There is no one who could brighten your day or do something to make you laugh better than Max,” Rigano wrote. “He was beloved by everyone. It was impossible to go anywhere with Max without everyone in the room trying to talk to him. Max brought an energy that I can confidently say, for everyone, is something that cannot be duplicated.”
Students in need of counseling services or support can contact the University Counseling Center at 607-777-2772 and the Office of the Dean of Students at 607-777-2804. Faculty and staff in need of support can contact the Employee Assistance Program any time of day at 1-800-822-0244.