A memorial honoring a student athlete who died from a sudden illness has been vandalized in Rhode Island.
A large rock at Warwick's Toll Gate High School was painted as a tribute to 16-year-old Gianna Cirella, who died last November of a rare blood infection.
The memorial was found covered in splashes of white paint Monday morning by members of the boys' soccer team. Cirella, a junior, was a goalkeeper.
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"I was hurt, disappointed,” said Toll Gate girls' soccer Coach Lonna Razza. “I just can’t believe there are people out there that can do something so heinous when we as educators just try to teach them to be kind to one another.”
Cirella's parents, Tara and Skip, rushed over.
"I fell apart. I lost it," Tara Cirella said.
It became strength in numbers. Friends and the entire girls’ soccer team came with supplies to right the wrong.
“We have the best people in the entire world. Whoever did this is not part of us,” Cirella said. “We will move forward.”
The group will return Tuesday to put handprints and other special touches on the memorial.
"This is Gianna’s rock and it’s going to be here a long time so stay away from this rock," said Razza.
Students and Gianna's family and friends worked Monday to paint over the vandalism and restore the memorial.
Warwick police have been notified of the vandalism and they are investigating.