Tony G 3-on-3 to help WWII vets, fight hunger

The following is another "Have Fun or Get Out of the Way" column by Don Leighton and his alter egos Lance Boyle, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.

Tony Gigliotti

The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by Don Leighton and his alter egos Lance Boyle, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Jan. 9, 2005 and Mrs. Lance and I had just returned home from grocery shopping. It was Sunday and was snowing when, as I was unlocking the back door, the phone began to ring.

The caller ID indicated the call was from the Dan Gigliotti residence. No doubt Dan’s son Tony was calling to make sure we were aware of the Viking victory over the Packers that afternoon. Of all the great qualities he possessed, he had one glaring deficiency; he was a Viking fan. The Mrs. answered the phone anticipating some comment such as, “so how did the Packers do today?”

The next few moments were some of the worst we have ever felt. It wasn’t Tony on the phone but his brother Joe. The news was surreal and devastating.


While returning home from visiting a friend in River Falls, Tony had been involved in a car accident and his vibrant, wise-cracking, wonderful life had been taken from his family and friends. Obviously, this could not be, but tragically was.

Tony, with promise and aspirations to pursue a career as an attorney, was gone. As badly as we felt, neither of us could fathom the pain and anguish of his parents, Dan and Sue, and his brother and sister, Joe and Katie.

I was deeply honored to be asked by the family to be involved at his funeral, along with Tony’s law professor at UWS, Dr. Maria Cuzzo, to eulogize this wonderful young man. It was difficult and, at the same time, easy to fill my allotted time with stories about Tony. Fr. Dahlberg gave me eight minutes, I took 15. My apologies, but since Tony was helping me, how could I cut short comments that seemed so inadequate?

I must tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Tony would appreciate this because it is “lawyer speak.”

My son, Chris, and Tony went to Cathedral School together and graduated from Superior High School in 2001. They were best of friends and Tony spent thousands of hours at our home during his life, sleeping over, dining on World Famous Boyle Barbecue, giving me grief because I am a Cardinal fan, he a Twins fan, and enjoying his favorite food, a mayonnaise sandwich.

Aside from the obvious problems Tony had, being a Twins and Viking fan and enjoying mayonnaise sandwiches, he also did not like his barbecued hamburgers to have the grill lines on the finished product. Since I was the chef, it was my responsibility to remove said lines before presenting him with his dinner of Tater Tots, corn on the cob, baked beans and quarter pound burgers that started out as half pounders. I dined on the meat with the lines. I would give anything to trim his burgers again.

While Tony left us way too soon, he is still with us today and the 10th annual Tony G 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 26-27 at the Mertz Mortorelli Gym and Field House on the campus of UWS.

From the Tony G website (


“The first tournament was held in April of 2005 with a total of 48 teams comprised mostly of friends and family members. Since that first event, we have continued to grow each year across all age divisions. The 2013 tournament, our ninth and largest to date, had 132 teams participate. We hope to continue our growth with this year’s tournament.”

Openings are still available. Check out the website for phone numbers and information on how you can get a team entered. The proceeds from this great event are earmarked to expand a scholarship created at UWS in honor of Tony that benefits a legal studies student.

Because of the success of the event, the foundation scholarship has grown each year and has allowed the committee to financially assist other worthwhile community concerns.

Honor Flight Northland and Hunger Takes no Holiday both benefit from the generosity of the Tony G. Helping to honor veterans by flying them to Washington, DC to visit memorials built in their honor and providing food for area residents of all ages who are in need are two causes of which Tony Gigliotti would be proud.

Mark Johnson is the tournament coordinator, Mike Raunio is the volunteer coordinator and Tony’s brother, Joe Gigliotti, is the registration coordinator.

Along with scores of friends and family members, hundreds have worked to make this a fun and successful endeavor.

Johnson smiles when thinking of Tony and says of the event, “We, as an organization, are proud of what we have accomplished, not only for continuing the memory of a friend and family member but as a community event and look forward to enhancing that tradition this year.”

Tony was a special young man who loved basketball and would have been an accomplished and influential member of any community in which he lived. What this event celebrates are the ideals Tony personified; compassion for others, friendship to many, having a good time and making a difference.


Kind of cool, even if he was a Vikings fan and didn’t like lines on his hamburgers.

Love you Tony.


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Lance and Billy

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