Thomasine Bianchi says there are two enduring memories about the character of her brother-in-law Marco Bianchi that stick with her the most.
“My two absolute favorites were his love of a good hidden surprise and his desire to help the underdog without wanting an ounce of recognition,” says Bianchi of Marco, who passed away at the age of 38 last year.
“Of all my Marco memories, my favorites include the ones where he showed that side of himself that was just pure magic. He made you feel special, included, and truly loved.”
Marco’s birthday would have been Friday, April 10th.
Marco grew up in the west-Wilmington neighborhood of Arundel with Thomasine’s husband Alex, and the family was well known across the surrounding areas. So Bianchis, along with Marco’s girlfriend Melissa Pisani, are targeting Alex and Marco’s favorite local haunts like Delcastle, Carousel and Paper Mill Parks where they are tucking away the painted rocks.
They’re also hitting the neighborhood Marco and Alex grew up in. That place, too, has special memories – not just for the Bianchi brothers and the friends they made, but for one special person who will never forget Marco’s kindness.
One child on their street, about the age of Marco, was wheelchair-bound and suffered cognitive disabilities. According to Alex, Marco was always kind to this neighbor when Marco saw him each summer at the community pool. But after one particular Halloween, when Marco was in middle school, Alex remembers that their mother received a phone call from the mother of the young boy who could never go out trick or treating. She called to tell Mrs. Bianchi how appreciative she was that Marco came by and to give her son half of his Halloween candy.
Marco hadn’t told a sole he had done that.
“That was just his thing. His life was filled with spontaneous gestures like that,” said brother Alex.
Alex Bianchi’s daughters Natalie (Sanford ’20) and Hailey (Sanford ’22) each picked out their favorites and placed the first two river rocks at Marco’s gravesite on Saturday. They continued their river rock drop at Delcastle, leaving some where walkers, joggers and basketball players might find them. Marco was crazy about basketball.
They miss their uncle terribly, too, and they hope the rocks with their many inspiring messages can lift someone else’s spirits. “He was always hiding a Justin Bieber sticker on our backpacks or inside a birthday card – he would do anything to make us laugh,” said Hailey.
The rocks say things like Smile. Believe. Be kind. Be happy. You rock. Inspire others. Be you. Joy. Spread love. Be positive. Choose kindness. Be the change. Make a wish. “We hope it just makes somebody happy during all this mess. It’s the best way we could think of to do it,” said Thomasine Bianchi.
Their viral campaign encourages people who see the rocks to snap a picture, share it with the hashtag #Marcorocks and tag them in it. (Given concerns about the coronavirus, the rocks don’t need to be touched, but they have been thoroughly cleaned.)
Already some folks have shared their rock art discoveries on Facebook. And that makes the Bianchi family happy. “We hope that it reaches people so they know that it’s from Marco. But they might not even know, and that’s okay,” says sister-in-law Thomasine. “We’ll know that somebody out there somewhere will have that same sort of happy feeling.”
“It’s really overwhelming to see how people have responded to this,” said Alex. “Sometimes you take for granted when people are around, and you don’t really realize the impact that people make until they’re gone. It’s amazing to see the impact that my brother had on other people – even people that we never even knew who knew him. He used to do so many selfless things,” he said.