WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A student athlete at Toll Gate High School who has been fighting a serious illness has passed away, according to an email sent to student’s parents by the school’s principal.
“It is with profound sadness that I inform you of the passing of one of our students, Gianna Cirella,” Toll Gate High School Principal Candace Caluori said in the email. “Gianna has fought valiantly for the past two weeks to overcome overwhelming obstacles. Sadly she has lost this fight.”
According to a Facebook post on the “Gistrong” page, Cirella passed away around 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
“The disease that got into Gianna’s beautiful little body was much larger than her, or her doctors, or any of the prayers or love that you all had,” the post said. “We love you, Gianna loves every goddamn one of you, and always will.”
Cirella was a junior goalie on the Toll Gate girls soccer team. Her teammates have been rallying around her fight since the diagnosis, wearing her favorite color, purple, and hosting a vigil in her honor during their last game of the season.
Her teammates and friends decided to paint a large rock in Cirella’s honor at the entrance of Toll Gate High School. The group of students said they plan to paint the rock white and then add her number and name to it.
Friends and family also raised more than $70,000 for Cirella through a GoFundMe page as she was being treated at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
Caluori encouraged parents to keep their children home during the grieving process if it better serves them. Grief counselors will also be available to help students when they return to school.
“This will be a difficult time for our community,” Caluori said. “Please keep the Cirella Family in your thoughts and prayers.”
In addition to Toll Gate, condolences have been pouring in from the entire Warwick community.
Warwick Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Philip Thornton released the following statement Thursday morning:
The loss is heartbreaking to the entire community. We have made counselors available to provide social and emotional support to students and staff during this time of tragedy. We ask that you honor the wishes of the family at this time and respect their privacy.”
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian also issued this statement about the death of Cirella:
It was with profound sadness that I learned last night of Gianna’s passing. Even as so many in our community have been reeling from the suddenness with which she was stricken, the tremendous outpouring of support for Gianna and her family in recent weeks has been a testament to how deeply she was loved. It is clear that her bright, warm personality drew many to this beautiful and engaging young lady, and I know that the positive impact she had on people will be carried in their hearts forever. On behalf of the residents of Warwick, I offer my heartfelt sympathy and prayers to Gianna’s family, her teammates, and friends as they grieve. I know the community will continue to support the Cirella family and friends, even as we honor their privacy as they endure this immeasurable and unimaginable loss.”
The Milford Police Department also shared condolences on Facebook, since Assistant to the Chief Jeanne Davoren is Cirella’s grandmother.