BROCTON, N.Y. - There were thousands of people, but very few words spoken.
There was a musical tribute blaring through the stadium sound system, the somber voice of the public address announcer and the unmistakable noises from an honorary dirt bike performance, but the family, friends and community members who loved Damon Janes didn't need to say anything. They let those other sounds speak for themselves at a vigil on Wednesday.
Janes, the Westfield-Brocton high school football player who died this week after sustaining a helmet-to-helmet collision during a game last Friday, loved to bike- hence the bike performance to open the evening's events. On the scoreboard, two numbers flashed: his football number, #25, and his bike number, #711. As the evening wore on, people then began to release lanterns into the air, which lit up the skyline as the sun began to set. Then, they lit handheld candles when it finally turned dark.
"It's been a long week," School Board President Doug Walter said. "A lot of grieving. And the grieving will continue because Damon meant a lot to this community."
Brocton is a small village of fewer than 2,000 residents, but there were also visitors and supporters from neighboring towns at the vigil. Even youth football teams from the region made the trip to the field to honor Janes. When the formal events concluded, many people still lingered on the grass. This will not be the last time they commemorate the life of Damon Janes. According to his obituary, funeral services will be held at Lakeshore Assembly of God (252 E. Main Street, Westfield, NY 14787). Calling hours will be held from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at the Morse Funeral Home.
A memorial fund has also been set up for Janes' family. Branches of Community Bank will accept contributions to the Damon Janes Memorial Fund.
The Damon Janes Memorial Benefit also has a Facebook page, as well as an online page where you can donate to his family for medical and funeral costs.