In a sea of purple, which was Gianna Cirella's favorite color, more than 650 people came together Friday evening at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick to pay tribute to her at the first annual Gianna Cirella Memorial Gala.
Gianna's life was cut short last year after she contracted sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection. Her family has now created a fund to help with future medical research of sepsis and to also help sepsis patients, along with their families, in time of need.
Gianna's mother Tara is also a parent advocate on the Sepsis Committee at Hasbro Children's Hospital. She hopes that the funds raised at Gianna's Gala will make a huge difference in the lives of many sepsis patients.
The ballroom was filled with people who loved Gianna, making it apparent that her impact on the community has been palpable. Tara always told Gianna to "Do big things" and, looking around the room, Gianna certainly is continuing to do just that.
During several of the speeches there wasn't a dry eye in the house, but many fond memories of Gianna also brought smiles and laughter to the entire crowd. Reflecting on the event, Tara said, "Gianna would have loved it," continuing to say, "She loved doing her hair, makeup and dressing up."
As Tara took a quiet moment to during the event, she stood in the doorway of the ballroom and looked around at everyone enjoying the amazing evening dedicated to her daughter. In that moment Tara thought to herself, "Oh my God, just look at this!"
Tara even saw her younger daughter Cassie in the crowd and said, "I saw the joy in Cassie's face too." She also said that, "The event committee was so tuned in to everything, so caring and thoughtful." Those in attendance that special feeling in the air as well.
The Toll Gate girls’ soccer team was there to support their former team member Gianna, who was the goalie for the team. Tara called them "The wall of love that's never ending." Several of Gianna's teammates spoke, sharing memories of their time together both on and off the field. Later in the evening, as the music began to play, they all danced and enjoyed being part of an evening dedicated to the memory of their friend and teammate. Many of Gianna's friends also helped at the event, ensuring it would be a night that Gianna would have been proud of.
The total amount raised from the event will be announced when the event committee finishes tallying the amounts from raffles and silent auction items. Event information will be posted to the Gianna Cirella website at www.gistrong.org and on Facebook at The Gianna Cirella Memorial Fund.
There are many more events to come. The next is a 5k Walk/Run on Sunday May 13 (Mother's Day) from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Goddard Memorial State Park in East Greenwich. For more information about this event or to donate to the Gianna Cirella Memorial Fund please visit the website.