'Butterfield's Angel' Remembered During Special Ceremony
Tony Borcia's No. 7 jersey was officially retired Wednesday evening during a ceremony at Butterfield School.
When the lights were turned off in the Butterfield School gym Wednesday night, just one light remained in the darkness. That light was directed at the No. 7 jersey of Tony Borcia.
There were tears, smiles and even applause as the Butterfield School community gathered in the school gym Wednesday night to remember Tony Borcia, who was killed in a boating accident last year.
"We saw his love by his smile. We saw his love by the friends he had. We saw his love by how he helped people," Tony's dad, Jim, told the standing-room-only crowd. "Tony enjoyed life."
Tony's No. 7 basketball jersey was officially retired Wednesday night. The gym was a sea of green, as students, parents and school staff wore "Tip Off For Tony" t-shirts with "Borcia 7" on the back.
"There is an energy and excitement within these gym walls that we've never felt before," said Principal Candice Kehoe. "We have a lot of love in this gym tonight."
Physical Education Teacher Pat Krech emceed the ceremony.
"What an amazing show of love and support here tonight," said Krech.
Krech said that was the challenge posed to students at the beginning of the school year.
"We challenged the students not to remember that horrible day, but we challenged the students to remember how Tony lived," said Krech. "Remember, we're never going to forget Tony; he's always going to be with us here."
The ceremony included a special cheer from the school's cheerleaders, who shouted, "We Love Tony!" Many students and parents wiped away tears as the school choir performed "When I Close My Eyes" by Jim Papoulis.
Tony's jersey number was then officially retired.
"That No. 7 will be in the gym for as long as there's a gym here," said Krech, who then presented a replica jersey to Tony's parents, Jim and Margaret, and his sisters, Kaeleigh & Erin.
"This is amazing," Jim said to the crowd. "We just can't thank you all enough for coming today."
Jim said the community has supported his family.
"You've wrapped your arms around us," he said. "You've given us your shoulders to cry on.
"I think most of all, what you've done is restored our faith in the goodness of mankind, which is a very difficult thing for us these days," he added.
Jim said people frequently ask what they can do for the family.
"The best answer I can think of to do for us is to live your live how Tony lived his life," said Jim.
Tony had many passions, Jim said, including basketball, Legos and school.
"We would actually come to the school on his days off and play in the park here," said Jim.
A Special Memorial
It is in that school park that several memorial benches and a special plaque will be installed sometime this spring, said fifth grade teacher Amy Roberts. The benches and plaque will be funded through the sale of 655 "Tip Off For Tony" t-shirts, which raised $2,600.
"Tony will never be forgotten," said Krech.