By Caitlin Masessa

On Thursday, May 18, the community of Stowers Elementary School came together to dedicate a newly designed Butterfly Sculpture in memory of Lillian Marie Reggi, a little girl remembered for her bright smile and infectious laugh. The sculpture, which includes two white steel butterflies that overlook the outdoor classroom of the school, was a dream imagined by Abagail Rothrock. The art teacher thought of the idea after making a butterfly mobile with Christian Reggi, Lillian’s older brother. “After giving her {Lillian} the gift, I had a vision of Lillian with butterflies around her,” Rothrock told the attendees of the dedication. “I asked if she would like a statue of butterflies in her honor and Lilli responded with two blinks for yes.”

The vision soon transformed into a reality thanks to the talented hands of Dominique Martinez, a renowned Tampa Artist known for founding Rustic Steel Creations, a home for welding artists that use steel and iron to create their artwork. Although Martinez had never met Lillian personally, the creator listened to her story and just had to be a part of it. “It’s amazing how something so unfortunate can happen, but something so beautiful comes out of it,” Martinez emotionally told the crowd. “The butterflies encapsulate Lilli’s greatest gift,” Rothrock added with a small grin. “Joy.”

Anthony Reggi, the father of Lillian, went on to describe his daughter’s ability to bring happiness wherever she went, even during times in which the emotion was hard to find. “Parents in the hospital would bring their kids to Lilli to play,” Reggi noted with a smile full of memories. “No one would sing karaoke in the recreation room until Lilli sang.”

The little girl truly had the gift of being able to bring people together, and the dedication ceremony was no exception. The Stowers Art Club students worked with Rothrock to design stepping stones that will now be placed around the sculptures while Innovative Landscape Solutions donated the mulch to the Garden. Bloom’s Nursery supplied the floral arrangements within the outdoor classroom, bringing popping color to match the vibrant personality of Lillian. Even during the setup of the event students constantly went up to faculty looking for jobs to do, wanting nothing more than to make the day as perfect as Lillian was. “A lot of love and hard work went into this,” Rothrock thanked those who gave everything to help.

The unified community of Stowers, and the people around them, remind spectators of the importance of coming together. By working together, any goal can be achieved with not only quick precision, but with a remarkable outcome. This message echoed through the halls of Stowers Elementary as the dedication wrapped with a recording of Lillian belting out Tomorrow from the musical Annie, as if letting everyone in attendance know that, if the community sticks together in times of grief and angst, the sun will rise the next morning with the promise of a new