EAST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A “March for Change” was held on Long Island in memory of Thomas Valva on Saturday.

A “March for Change” was held on Long Island in memory of Thomas Valva on Feb. 8, 2020. (Credit: CBS2)

Hundreds of people gathered at Heckscher State Park in East Islip.

Supporters are calling for more safeguards to protect vulnerable children.

Eight-year-old Thomas Valva, who had autism, died in January after his father allegedly forced the child to sleep in an unheated garage.

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Justyna Zubko-Valva, Thomas’ mother, hopes her son’s death will not be in vain.

Thomas Valva, 8, died of hypothermia after being forced to sleep in an unheated garage at his father’s house in Center Moriches. (Photo via CBS2)

“Thomas is definitely looking upon us from heaven, and he’s extremely happy that he started this whole movement,” she said. “I feel like the changes are going to happen very quickly and we’re going to have so many more.”

A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Thomas’ father, NYPD officer Michael Valva, and Valva’s fiancee, Angela Pollina, in the boy’s death.

They are being held without bail.

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