This story was corrected at 11:55 a.m., Oct. 23, 2012. An explanation follows.
As the sun set Friday, about 50 blue and orange balloons were released into the air.
“Tonight we just give honor to No. 62,” Milton Kimbrough, chairman of the Germantown Sports Association, said minutes earlier.
In a brief vigil held before many of the younger attendees headed to practice, friends, fellow football players, parents, coaches and others gathered to remember 11-year-old William McQuain and his mother, Jane McQuain, both killed about a year ago. Jane McQuain’s ex-husband Curtis Lopez has been charged in their deaths.
Players and coaches from the Germantown Sports Association, which includes multiple football teams, wore shirts reading “In Loving memory of William McQuain, Gone but not forgotten” during the vigil held by the Victims’ Rights Foundation and the Germantown Sports Association.
Gregory Wims, founder and president of the Victims’ Rights Foundation, said he hoped the vigil would help the boys, ages 7 through high school age, know to keep William and his mother in their prayers, study and work hard to become successful — and heal.
“A few mothers have told me that some of the boys still have nightmares, so this, I think, will help them to heal,” Wims said.
Michael Kapneck, 12, of Germantown played with William on the same South Germantown Panthers team during last year’s football season.
“He was like athletic, he was strong, he was smart on the field too,” said Michael, who also was a good friend of William’s off the field.
Michael said the team still thinks about William.
“When we think about it, it makes us want to play harder,” he said.
George Castro, 13, of Germantown said William, also a fellow Panther, sometimes was quiet but “always saying funny jokes.”
“I always thought about him, but tonight everyone was together” and showed that they care about him, George said.
Sharee Hall of Montgomery Village said her son Trevon, 12, had a hard time after his teammate’s death and has thought about him during games and practices.
“He told me he would think about him,” Hall said, adding that Trevon was eager to attend the vigil.
Rodney Hall, who coached William three years ago when he was a young “ankle biter,” said “Big Willy” was a kid who gave it his all.
“I think it really affected [the players] because they feel a loss,” Hall said. “He was a good kid, and he was liked by everybody.”
Kimbrough said he thought the vigil was a needed healing process.
“It was kind of funny, some of the kids said when the balloons got far away, it looked like it was a smiley face,” he said. “So they were thinking that his presence was here.”
Editor’s note: The story has been changed to reflect current charges against Curtis Lopez.