Slain teen Mark Bistoyong honoured through fundraisers and tributes in Hamilton


Published October 25, 2023 at 1:49 pm

Mark Bistoyong, 16, was killed in July. His family and school community have taken several steps to honour him. via Bay Gardens Funeral Home.

The teenage boy slain at a family gathering over the summer has been honoured by his community through public tributes, the establishment of a bursary and a $100,000 donation to McMaster University.

Just after 10. p.m. Mark Bistoyong, 16, was fatally stabbed during a family event on July 2 on Cadham Boulevard. After first responders arrived, they rushed Bistoyong to hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. His cousin, Laureano Bistoyong, 22, was charged with first-degree murder.

Police said the pair became embroiled in a disagreement during a basketball game at a nearby park during a family outing. Their play grew aggressive and the game was called off. The group went back to the younger Bistoyong’s home, where he was attacked, police later shared.

The Bistoyong family initially kept Mark’s cause of death under wraps, seeking privacy. A few days later, his death was publicly confirmed in a tribute post from his school, St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary. Bistoyong played on the school’s football team, the Knights.

Mark Bistoyong, who was killed this summer, was honoured by his school community at his team’s football game on Oct. 20. via Left His Mark on Instagram.

“It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Mark Bistoyong. Our hearts go out to Mark’s family, friends, teammates and the STM community,” the Knights wrote at the time.

“Mark inspired his teammates with his commitment to physical fitness and weight training. He was a bright young man with an amazing sense of humour. Mark will be forever loved and sorely missed.”

In a later obituary, Bistoyong’s family remembered him as a “bright, mature young man” and a gifted athlete. The obituary confirmed he had just finished Grade 11 with honours and had been involved in various sports since he was three years old, starting with skating and moving on to jiu-jitsu, muay thai, wrestling and football.

“We count ourselves incredibly lucky to have witnessed Mark’s growth into a vibrant, charismatic, and funny young man. His personality illuminated every room he entered, filling it with warmth, smiles and laughter. His infectious spirit touched the hearts of his family, friends, and peers alike, leaving an undeniable impact on all who crossed his path.” – family friend Katrina Farrell

In the wake of Bistoyong’s death, his family made it their mission to ensure he was remembered in the community. They launched a GoFundMe page, initially to collect money to establish a bursary for students in Bistoyong’s name.

“Mark made a lasting impact on so many people during his sixteen years, and we are certain that given more time, he would have impacted and shaped the lives of many others,” wrote GoFundMe organizer and family friend Katrina Farrell. “As the Bistoyong family looks to move forward from this tragedy, honouring Mark’s memory in a meaningful and impactful way will be their mission.

Bistoyong helmet

Bistoyong’s helmet and jersey on the bench at his memorial football game. – via Left His Mark,

However, the family later changed course and decided to fund this bursary personally. The money from the GoFundMe, as well as other fundraising endeavours, will instead go to the McMaster University Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where Bistoyong spent several days after his birth.

“It was there, within the nurturing embrace of the dedicated staff, that Mark fought against the odds and triumphed over the hurdles of those first critical moments of life,” Farrell wrote. “The unwavering support and compassionate care he received in that unit became the foundation upon which his story of resilience and strength was built.”

The GoFundMe reached more than $50,000 of its $100,000 goal by Oct. 1. This was not the only measure to raise the funds, however.

On Sept. 11, what would have been Bistoyong’s 17th birthday, his family held a fundraising event at the Sasso Pizza Market and Bar, where they managed to raise another $27,000 for the NICU. This brings the total to just more than $77,000. Once the family reaches the $100,000, the NICU will add a plaque in Bistoyong’s honour and host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to honour him.

Following the fundraising event, Bistoyong was next honoured at a St. Thomas More football game on Oct. 20. His teammates and classmates took to the field to remember Bistoyong.

Three food trucks, Tacos Carlito’s Way, Cool Jim’s and the Dirty South, were also at the game to help raise money for the NICU fund. However, the family has not yet shared how much more they made that night.

“Players from both teams lined up side-by-side before the opening kickoff near the stands while a moment of silence was observed. Then, when the game began, Bistoyong’s white helmet and jersey were on the bench with the More team,” wrote Larry Moko for Hamilton-Wentworth School Board.

“The loss of Mark had such a profound impact on all of us – the team, the coaches and the school community. We’re still hurting. To have this honour for Mark meant a lot to all of us,” coach Claudio Silvestri told Moko.

The Knights won the game 35-3. The school will also honour Bistoyong with a permanent display of his helmet and jersey in the weight room.

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