The deep love the community felt toward the teenager who tragically died Jan. 6 was obvious as numerous performances and speeches were made in his honor throughout the event held at Warne Field.
Hundreds in attendance stood as his casket was placed by his football teammates into his 1969 Chevrolet truck for a last ride around the football field.
Garza’s aunt and Mothers Against Gangs Coalition trustee Yethel Alonso said she was proud to be from Brawley after seeing the support shown by the community over the past couple of weeks.
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The multi-sport athlete was honored with performances by the Brawley Union High School band and cheerleaders, and in a show of solidarity between Valley high schools, multiple high schools participated in a drum line.
With many talents even beyond baseball, basketball and football, a dance battle as well as a ballet folklorico dance were also performed in honor of the outgoing teenager’s love of dancing.
Many wore buttons bearing Garza’s image, ribbons in his honor or T-shirts bearing Garza’s image or football jersey number while others clasped single red roses.
Although many tears were shed, there was also a lot of laughter as those who knew Garza shared funny stories about him.
Representatives for both state Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez and U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas each presented the family with flags flown in honor of Garza, and almost everyone recounted his signature big hugs.
Chuck Perez, his Little League coach, urged his friends to love people to the fullest and not be shy, as Garza did.
“Every moment I spent with him, we did something to connect our hearts, our love and to teach each other morals, values and in these last years I think we even bonded more through God,” his mother Yulil Alonso Garza said. “This is God’s child and he let us raise him. He gave us the honor and the privilege and the trust to raise a really great young man. I’m not mad at God because I know that he’s his child and it was his time to take his child back.”
While it’s still difficult every day for her, she said she has “been feeling his presence thanks to God and God reminds me that just because he’s not here physically he’s still here spiritually.”
In parting, she implored parents to spend quality time with their children and children to hug and kiss their parents often as her son had.
The field darkened as members of the very large audience lined up to pay their respects to the young man whose life was cut short, and the night of remembrance continued at a reception held inside the family’s home.
Garza’s funeral service is to be held today, and while the bright young man is no longer here, the community showed Friday that he is not forgotten.