Nearly 250 people flocked to Hayden High School in Winkelman on Sunday to light candles for Jovanna Martinez-Calzadillas, a 30-year-old seriously wounded in the deadly Las Vegas shooting that claimed more than 50 lives last week.

The Mesa resident and mother of two — who grew up in Hayden, near Winkelman — was attending the Route 91 country-music festival with her husband when a gunman opened fire on her and hundreds of other concert-goers from above.

She was shot in the back of the head and remains in critical condition.

Sunday’s vigil took place on the softball field of the high school where Martinez-Calzadillas graduated in 2005. Her friends and family lit candles before forming a heart around the pitcher’s mound, where pictures of Martinez-Calzadillas and a poster signed by the community rested.

Several wore black shirts that read “Jovanna Strong” or Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys for Martinez-Calzadillas’ favorite football team. Some wiped tears as they said a prayer for her.

Ginger Chester, a friend and former classmate of Martinez-Calzadillas, said she helped organize the vigil because she wanted to do something to show support for her friend’s relatives. Many of them found out about her injuries hours after she had been shot.

“We want her family to know they have lots of support here, and we are all waiting for her to come home,” Chester said. “We are a small community, but we want them to know they are not alone… We are all fighting with you.”

Tony Perez, Martinez-Calzadillas’ uncle, called the support “amazing” and a “godsend.“ 

“It’s good to see people come out and be kind,” he said. “I wish I could grab all that support and put it on Jovanna so she could heal.”

Perez described his niece as a “beautiful person with a big sense of humor” and “a kind person that loved life, loved her kids and loved her husband.”

Martinez-Calzadillas is being treated at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. Her family is hopeful their “fighter” will recover and plans to have her transferred to a Phoenix hospital soon, Perez said.

“Jovanna would feel more at home in Arizona,” he said.


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