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Community rallies to mourn and remember Antonio

"Let’s honor this sweet boy and make sure he is never forgotten."
Posted at 3:30 PM, Nov 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-24 17:30:34-05

The Great Falls community continues to mourn after five-year old Antonio “Tony” Renova was found dead in an apartment last week.

Three suspects, including both of the boy's parents, now face criminal charges for Antonio's (Tony) death.

Christy Foster, who was Antonio's foster mother from shortly after he was born until he was given back to his birth parents in February 2019, told MTN News, "Tony was a sweet boy. He loved animals. He always knew how to make people laugh because he was such a ham. He loved going to church. He loved learning new things." She assured us that he experienced much happiness and joy during his years with them.

The Dandelion Foundation is partnering with Tony's family to host a community funeral in his honor. The Dandelion Foundation tells MTN News that Tony's maternal grandfather has been given the rights to lay Tony's body to rest. In a press release, the Foundation said that Tony's grandfather is the only family member authorized to handle arrangements intended to "honor Tony's short life and bring awareness to his tragic death."

"Tony's Last Honors" will take place in early December. The exact date has not yet been finalized, and location of the event has not yet been released.

While there are several GoFundMe accounts started online, MTN has been told this is the only event that has been authorized by the family.

In a Facebook post , the Dandelion Foundation also noted:

  • We understand there are several illegitimate accounts requesting donations circulating through social media and on the web. There are also a few honorable citizens gathering funds to contribute to Tony's remembrance and legacy.
  • It is important for the community to know there are several family members who loved Tony dearly and did attempt to provide him a safe and loving home. We encourage those who do not have first-hand knowledge of the situation to refrain from speculating further. We hope the community finds some comfort learning Tony experienced love and kindness from several family members, including his incredible foster family.

Organizers say that people who want to help with funeral expenses can contact the Dandelion Foundation through their website or Facebook page .

In addition, a public memorial is planned for Sunday, November 24th, from 6 pm to 7 pm. It will be outside the apartment building where Antonio's body was found, at 1201 9th Street NW.

The organizers of Sunday's event are Kelsey Leigh Johns and Schelli Teats, according to the Facebook event page , which states:

  • A little boy lost his life this week due to NOT having a voice! Let’s Not let anything like this ever happen again, let’s stand together as a community and fighter for better for those who can't fight for themselves. We will STAND for Antonio! Bring a candle, bring a teddy bear, bring your neighbors, and bring an open heart to give back. Let’s show Antonio that he IS loved, will always be loved, and HE will NEVER be forgotten! 💔🙏🏻

They will also be collecting donations for Toby's House Crisis Nursery .

The organizers concluded with: "Our community must come away from this STRONGER, smarter, and more AWARE! We are with you Antonio forever and always! Rest in Peace sweet boy!"

In addition, Megan Brunelle plans to honor Antonio by hosting a bake sale at the Ulm school gym on December 14th. All proceeds will go directly to Toby's House Crisis Nursery. Megan said, "Let’s honor this sweet boy and make sure he is never forgotten."

Megan says that people can bring diapers, formula, wipes, etc in exchange for baked goods as well. Click here to visit the Facebook event page .

The Do Bar is also having an event to honor Tony. You can find more details on their Facebook event