The Eden community honored one of its own Tuesday with the dedication of Gorcica Field, the town's newest and largest recreation center, named for the boy with the big heart.
Residents in Eden took Jeremy Gorcica under their wing when he and his family moved in 12 years ago, and they supported his family when he died in 1996 from complications of muscular dystrophy.
The plucky and determined 13-year-old was remembered as an inspiration Tuesday by about 100 people attending the dedication, including his family, friends, former teachers and principals.
Jeremy influenced those around him for many years, said the Rev. James Grimmer, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church, to which the Gorcicas belong. "Many of you youngsters probably never got a chance to know him. He never complained about his condition but set a good example," said Grimmer.
The town bought the 17.5-acre site on East Eden Road in 1996 from St. Mary's, and the project suffered several delays. North Boston Construction Co. had trouble finishing the project by its target of September 1998 after a natural gas line was discovered on the property.
The soccer field, located toward the front of the property, was seeded last year, and the town is waiting until later this summer for soccer games to be played there, Supervisor Glenn Nellis said.
"I think it worked pretty well. It's gotten quite sturdy," he said of the turf.
The basketball court and picnic shelter were finished this year, but the baseball diamond still has not been constructed, he said.
Jeremy loved baseball, said his mother, Gloria.
"He participated by being the scorekeeper," she said. "I don't think the word 'can't' was in his vocabulary. He always did things to his ability."
James Brass, chairman of the Eden Recreation Advisory Board, said: "On any given summer night, it is obvious how important the recreation facilities and programs are to the Town of Eden, especially its children. It's also important to remember that Eden recreation programs encourage all to participate, regardless of ability."
Brass said a number of volunteers contributed time and materials to the recreation site, including Charles Laedke, who completed the masonry and stonework for the brick sign by the road; St. Mary's Church, which donated the sign; and the Eden Teachers Association, which donated a handicapped-accessible swing for the playground.
Laedke and other volunteers installed the concrete floor in the picnic shelter, and he has offered to build a stone bridge across the creek connecting the two sides of the recreation site, Brass said. The Schichtel family has donated about 70 trees, and Ed Gwitt of East Eden Road will donate 50 to 100 evergreens, he said.
A plaque to be placed at the site will read: "Gorcica Field is named in memory of Jeremy Gorcica, who died in May of 1996 at a young age from complications of muscular dystrophy, a disease he battled nobly while actively participating in many Eden recreation programs. This site was conceived to be used by and be an inspiration to all, but especially those who live with a disability. Gorcica Field was lovingly created through the generosity of St. Mary's Catholic Church and numerous Eden residents who selflessly donated their time and talents."