GRAFTON — A steady stream of people flowed through the doors of Midview High School on Saturday.
They were there to honor and celebrate a beloved coach and teacher, Troy DiFranco, who died June 24 after suffering a heart attack June 11. He was 48.
Inside the cafeteria, jerseys hung on the wall, each one representing a special moment in DiFranco's life.
Pictures and videos of DiFranco with family and friends played on a screen.
People and students sold T-Shirts with the hashtag #TDStrong on them, bracelets, ornaments and other items to raise money for the DiFranco family.
There also were raffle tickets sold throughout the day for different prizes.
No tickets were required to come to the event, just a donation of any amount at the door, which included dinner.
Jill Ward, who organized the event with Sheila Overy, Joanne Sanders and Deb Tomasheski, said they had about 76 baskets to raffle off. All items in the baskets were donated.
One group of students had ornaments that people could make and decorate, and the cross-country team had rocks that people could paint.
Ward said that although they were hoping for a different outcome after DiFranco's heart attack, they wanted a way to honor his legacy.
The celebration of life was from 2 to 8 p.m. By 3 p.m., hundreds of people already had come through the doors.
Ward said it was "absolutely incredible" and goes to show the kind of person DiFranco was. Ward, who was a co-worker of DiFranco's, said he never walked by without saying hi.
His family attended the celebration of life, standing near the table of jerseys and awards, greeting friends who walked through the doors with tearful hugs.
DiFranco was the boys basketball coach at Midview for 19 seasons. He won six conference championships and was inducted into the Lorain County Boys Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
He also a 1989 graduate of Midview and played basketball and baseball for the Middies.
Rob Overy, a longtime friend and old classmate of DiFranco, said he was just a "high-character guy."
DiFranco believed in everybody, Overy said, and that's part of what made him a good coach and teacher.
Jim Brabenec, who took DiFranco's place when he retired from coaching basketball in 2016, said he was a mentor to Brabenec and helped with his career.
DiFranco was someone people could talk to, Brabenec said, and encouraged people to be themselves.
Although DiFranco retired from coaching basketball to spend more time with his family and focus on his children's sports, he still coached the inaugural girls golf team at Midview, which his daughter was a member of.
All of the proceeds made from the event went directly to the family.