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Boating victim Borcia remembered by Libertyville Little League

Jim Borcihugs his daughter Kaeleigh Borcicomfort her during dedicatiHealing Garden memory their sbrother 10-year-old Libertyville boy Tony Borcia.  |

Jim Borcia hugs his daughter, Kaeleigh Borcia, to comfort her during the dedication of a Healing Garden in memory of their son and brother, 10-year-old Libertyville boy, Tony Borcia. | Ruthie Hauge ~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 3, 2013 6:08AM

More than 300 friends and family members in Libertyville movingly memorialized a young boy who loved watching and playing baseball on warm afternoons at Butler Lake Park.

The crowd paid tribute this month to Tony Borcia, who died July 28, 2012, when intoxicated boater David Hatyina struck the 10-year-old after he fell from an inner tube on Chain O’ Lakes in northern Lake County.

The ceremony happened as part of opening day on April 20 for the Libertyville Little League, but baseball fields were under water from heavy rainstorms days earlier and games were cancelled.

Still, people laughed and cried as they remembered Tony by dedicating a healing garden, flagpole and bench to him, a student at Butterfield School.

His father, Jim Borcia, said the healing garden beyond an outfield fence was a fitting remembrance to his son.

“This park was Tony’s favorite place on earth. He had been coming here since he was a baby,” said Jim, a little league coach.

“We will never forget our special friends who taught us love conquers all,” he said.

He also recalled how much Tony enjoyed buying candy at the concession stand, sometimes asking people other than his family for a dollar.

The story got a big chuckle, while other testimonials and statements expressed grief, hope and heartfelt support.

“It was a tragic accident and had a big impact on our community. Tony was much too young to pass away,” said Seth Holzwarth, a volunteer for Libertyville Little League.

More than 800 boys and girls ages 5 through 18 play baseball every season in the little league.

“He was a happy-go-lucky kid who loved baseball,” said Michael Nissen, league director of facilities.

“Tony liked winning, but felt bad if his team was winning by too many runs,” he said, smiling.

Nine white doves were set loose at intervals from cardboard cages, eight representing local schools and one for Tony’s family.

The wild birds — traditionally symbolizing peace and love — circled high above the grass ball fields until grouping into a flock and flying northeast until disappearing from sight.

“They’re flying home,” an onlooker said.

Pastor Sue Beadle of Christ Lutheran Church in Vernon Hills led an invocation.

“You, Lord, have made each and every child in your image,” she said. “You have gifted each child and every team with different talents, but each child has your passion to enjoy life, to have fun and to feel good about their contribution to the team.”

A small musical band played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” before the dedication ceremony.

Molly Bacilek, a Libertyville parent, urged people to donate to and help raise fund for The Y-Not Foundation.

Borcia’s nickname was Y-Not — Tony spelled backward.

The charity project’s mission is creating awareness and legislation to stop intoxicated boating.

The healing garden, Bacilek said, was “a place to reflect on all the good times and continue to heal.”

“A place to close our eyes and watch Tony hit one more out of the park,” she added.

On April 9, Hatyina, 51, pled guilty to one count of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol in the incident.

Additional counts of aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea.

A Bartlett resident, Hatyina’s sentencing is June 13.

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