EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While the world continues on, and traffic moves along I-195, suspended above it is a symbol of love, and the reminder of one of the last memories Kira Galka has with her late boyfriend, Thomas Harrington.
“When he went to Paris, he saw locks on a bridge that couples would do,” Kira said.
Together, they brought that Paris tradition to the India Point Bridge in East Providence.
Kira still talks about Thomas in the present tense, because she still feels him with her, months after he passed away from bone cancer. The two met back in middle school through a mutual friend.
“He’d always keep a smile on his face no matter what situation he was in,” Kira said. “He was always positive and optimistic.”
She says Thomas was adventurous, loved music, and was determined to live life to the fullest, even through multiple relapses.
“I mean, he was kind of famous at Hasbro [Children’s Hospital]. They all knew him; the nurses on floor 5, the Tomorrow Fund Clinic,” Kira said.
Thomas was famous, not just as a patient, but as an advocate. A member of the Izzy Foundation Youth Advisory Board and Hasbro’s Adolescent Leadership Council, Thomas was a force within the local pediatric cancer community.
Kira says Thomas was always reaching out to support fellow cancer patients, and even wrote a poem about his own experience battling cancer, reading it on the steps of the Rhode Island State House during Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. One line of that poem read, “The day I lost my hair is the day I lost my dignity. I lost track of the drugs they were putting into me.”
The poem will be framed inside the Izzy family room on Hasbro’s fifth floor.
Kira plans to keep Thomas’ legacy going, now working with the Izzy foundation herself as an “IZspirer.”
Her ideas to continue the work her boyfriend started are endless, beginning with a walk in Thomas’ memory on November 19 at 5 p.m. at Johnston Memorial Park. All of the proceeds from “Walk for a Cause” will benefit the Izzy Foundation.
“It will make me a little emotional, but it will make me very proud and [it will be] heartwarming, to see all these people coming together in memory of Thomas, and their own loved ones too,” she said.
Thomas had that lock the couple put on the India Point Park Bridge custom-made with a saying that was special to both of them.
“Whenever we’d say ‘goodnight’ or ‘I love you’ to each other, we’d always say, ‘I love you to the moon and back,'” Kira explained.
To the moon and back: a fitting sentiment, because there’s no distance that could separate a love this strong.
If you’re interested in taking part in “Walk for a Cause” in memory of Thomas or another cancer fighter or survivor, email Kira at email@example.com.