Thursday, June 9, 2011

In Loving Memory of Toni Bolis (Donato) and Baby Ryan

I do not usually post current local events that have nothing to do with filming and / or celebrity sightings, but I felt like I had to make an exception on this one. Last week, the daughter of my father's close friend was killed by a distracted driver along with her unborn child, Ryan. I have not seen Toni in a long time, but I know she was an amazing person who greatly impacted people in life and in death. On June 1, Toni was driving home from a doctor appointment when she was hit by a 21 year old driver using his GPS enabled phone who crossed over into her lane of traffic and hit her. Toni passed shortly there after and efforts to save her unborn child, Ryan were unsuccessful. Toni would have given birth to her second child this week.

All over the Internet, there are sites with multiple comments from friends, families, and total strangers. One person shared his story of the events in the emergency room on the eve of her death and expressed his wants to hug her family and details how he watched them bring Toni and Ryan in and out of the emergency room. This individual was a total stranger, yet even he and his wife were impacted by Toni and stated that they will no longer cherish petty things in life, but relish in being with the ones they love. Just as this person was affected, hundreds of others have joined the facebook group, 'In Loving Memory of Toni and Baby Ryan,' a group created shortly after her untimely death. Since its creation less than a week ago, membership to the paged has swelled to over 3,300 members. Friends and family shared their stories of Toni and how she was willing to help anyone who asked. Many of the posts on the wall start with the words 'I did not know Toni...' a true testament to the fact that even in death, she made an impact on peoples lives.

I, on the other hand, did have the privilege of meeting Toni on a couple of occasions and wish that I was able to know her more. I remember when I was about nine years old, Toni and her family spent some time at my shore house. Now our shore house is not extremely small, but that weekend we had about sixteen people staying there which can make things extremely cramped. Toni and her family were among those who spent the night at our house and even though we were all young, I can still remember Toni's kindness and her incredible relationship with her two sisters and her parents. Toni and her family are some of the friendliest people that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

I did not attend the funeral or the viewing for Toni and baby Ryan, but my parents told me some of the things they witnessed. At the viewing (which 4,000 people attended) they told me how they had waiting three hours in a line that practically circled the building, and as they left, there were still people in the same position in the line that they had started. The church was also packed for the funeral with attendants, some of whom travelled over two hours to say their final goodbyes. In my opinion Toni had no friends, she had 4,000 family members because Toni and her family are the kind of people who are so warm and welcoming that everyone they meet instantly becomes family. When this many people attend a funeral, even a total stranger would know that this person had to be special, and Toni Bolis was special.

If you are reading this and you are able to remember to do so, please wear green tomorrow, Friday June 10 in memory of Toni and baby Ryan. Green was not only her favorite color, but also green ribbons are used to bring awareness to distracted drivers. And remember, next time you feel like you need to check your email, send a text, or check out your GPS while driving, think of Toni Bolis and her baby. Just pull over, no one else has to die for your mistake.

Family Raises Distracted Driving Awareness:

To read comments posted about Toni including the one made by the man in the ER that night (JRZBOY) and her father click HERE
To check out the Facebook page created in Toni and Baby Ryan's memory click HERE

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