In the last year of his life, Timothy O'Connell became the youngest member of Holliston High School's varsity football team, which named him an honorary captain. And when treatment for acute myeloid leukemia kept him from walking onto the field with the other captains for the coin toss, he led his hometown team from afar.
"At first, we were doing it to lift his spirits and do what we could for the family, not realizing how much he was able to do for our team," said Todd Kiley, Holliston's varsity coach. "But because of the courage he was showing, we decided that when the going got tough, we would reach down for what we called 'Tim time.' When you think of all the things he had to go through, anything we had to do was minimal by comparison. So when we needed a little extra strength, we had 'Tim time.' "
Earlier this year, as treatments failed to slow the progression of his illness, Timothy helped his parents decide where to direct $58,000 in charitable funds raised on his behalf. He died in Children's Hospital Tuesday, two days after turning 10.
Read more of Bryan Marquard's Boston Globe obiturary here.