Warwick community mourns Toll Gate teenager

The Warwick community mourns Toll Gate High School junior Gianna Cirella, who died of a blood infection. (Photo courtesy of Megmac Photography)

The soccer community in Warwick is mourning a Toll Gate High School junior who died of blood infection.

Sixteen-year-old Gianna Cirella died Wednesday night.

"She just brightens up a room. She's always smiling," said her coach, Lonna Razza.

Razza remembers Gianna as a true one-of-a-kind student and person.

"It's nice to see kids smile all the time and ask how you're doing. As a teacher, that's huge, and as a coach, we had that teacher-coach-athlete bond. And she's just a great student and just a great kid," Razza said.

After complaining of a sore throat, Gianna was diagnosed with pneumonia and then sepsis -- a blood disease that attacks the organs.

When the tragic news came out, Gianna's friends became the backbone of the what quickly became a community effort.

"Let's do T-shirts. Let's do a vigil. Let's sell bracelets. Let's go to the soccer game tonight and cheer her on. Let's have a purple day. You know, that's all coming from the kids," Razza said.

In the team's last game of the season, Exeter-West Greenwich presented Gianna with a special soccer ball.

"Just the community of Warwick and it kind of grows bigger from there because people reached out from other schools out of the district," Gianna said. "So, it's been a Toll Gate thing, a Warwick thing and it's been a state thing."

Gianna's manager from the Greenwood Inn, Wendy Papa, expressed her condolences to the Cirella family and friends Thursday, saying she was an impressive girl who they loved and valued exponentially.

Razza said the kind words pouring in are a true testament to the girl she was.

"Once a Titan, always a Titan," Razza said.

A vigil in Gianna's memory will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Gregory the Great Church in Warwick.

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