‘I have to bury two boys’: Family loses everything except faith ahead of Christmas

A family in Orangeburg County is mourning the loss of two special needs children after a fire destroyed their mobile home in North.
Published: Dec. 25, 2022 at 8:56 AM EST
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ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) — A family in Orangeburg County is mourning the loss of two special needs children after a fire destroyed their mobile home in North.

The Orangeburg County Fire District confirmed that flames erupted around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, killing two and displacing seven family members.

Edward and Kay Martin are the adoptive parents of nine children with Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder causing lifelong learning disabilities and developmental delays.

“When you adopt a “normal” child, they grow up, go to school, get married and then they leave. A special needs kid, they’re yours forever,” said Edward Martin, known throughout the Midlands as Papa Eddie.

Together with his wife, commonly referred to as Mama Kay, the couple has adopted special needs children from Ohio to Korea for two decades and counting.

“My children, now, are adult children. They’ll never be “adults” as such, but they’re my children,” said Mama Kay within the family’s second home in Gaston.

The Martin’s tell WIS they lost everything Wednesday morning. As recalled, the bodies of 32-year-old Stanley Martin and 23-year-old Nikki Martin were recovered by first responders after the fire was contained.

Mama Kay said Nikki was adopted out of Texas in November of 2001, while Stanley was adopted at age 12 out of Florida.

“Stanley loved John Deere tractors. If anything green comes in here, I want to holler for Stanley and tell him I’ve got him something. And he’s not here,” continued Mama Kay.

The Martin’s say their boys are in heaven, looking down as the family rebuilds through charitable donations from family, friends, and strangers.

“I just want the kids to have Christmas. They’ve lost everything they had. Lost all their tapes, toys, and Barbie dolls. The girls were really proud of their big Barbie houses. They all went to ashes,” said Papa Eddie.

Despite the additional loss of five dogs and one pet bird, the Martin’s faith in God and community remains steadfast. They’re firm believers that everything happens for a reason.

Papa Eddie’s response to whether he’s questioning the message behind Wednesday’s tragedy: “No. I don’t need to know the reason yet. I wouldn’t understand the message anyway. But I will one day.”

The Martin family, known for their charitable works, are asking for the community’s help in delivering their children a Merry Christmas.

Donations can be dropped at the Martin’s current residence, 729 Mimosa Dr., Gaston, S.C. Papa Eddie can be reached at 839-223-0380.

The family specifically requested a Television and DVD player for the children. They’re known to enjoy Elvis Presley movies and classic television shows, like The Waltons.

Additionally, the family is asking for twin mattresses so the kids have somewhere to sleep.

Family clothing size chart:

  • Lizzy (age 7) - 8 girls.
  • Rachel (28) - L shirt, size 3 shoe.
  • Amanda (24) - 1X shirt, 5 shoe.
  • Teddy (29) & Scooter (22) - M shirt, M jogging pants, size 4-5 shoes.
  • Mama Kay - L shirt, size 7 shoe (clogs).
  • Papa Eddie - 2X shirt, 42-32 pants, 12 shoe.

You can donate to the GoFundMe, launched by Pastor Ray Boone.

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