‘We are running for Flo’: Family and friends honor Flordan ‘Flo’ Bazile

Jan 27, 2024

Family, friends, coaches and classmates gathered the evening of Thursday, Jan. 25 in the UMass Dartmouth auditorium to remember and mourn the loss of 21-year-old Flordan “Flo” Bazile who died by suicide a week earlier. 

“In this gathering, let’s remember Flo’s smiles, the goodwill he spread, and the irreplaceable sense of community that he fostered,” said Kevin Hamilton, associate vice chancellor and dean of student belonging at UMass Dartmouth. “Though we may feel sadness, let us find solace in the memories we share.”

Counselors were present during the ceremony to support the bereaved. The ceremony opened with a slideshow of photos and videos from Bazile’s life while students Aisha Clark-Gordon and Zoi Burns sang “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith. 

Bazile was last seen on the UMass Dartmouth campus at Pine Dale Hall around 2 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 15. Following an extensive search, Bazile’s body was recovered from the Acushnet River on the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 16. A GoFundMe page in honor of Bazile has raised over 650 donations amounting to over $20,000

Bazile, a sophomore of UMass Dartmouth’s Charlton College of Business, was an accomplished college athlete who set a new school record of 10.56 seconds in the 100-meter dash. Cam Rodgers, a representative and student athlete of the UMass Dartmouth track and field team, said that Bazile was “an extremely important and valued” team member.

“He was truly one of the most naturally talented athletes I had ever ran with,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said that Bazile was, and continues to be, an inspiration to the track team. 

“I am so grateful to have gotten the privilege to train side by side with him every day because he pushed me and the whole sprinting team to reach our fullest potential,” Rodgers said. “We cannot thank him enough for what he’s done for this program. As a team, we now know that we are running for Flo and that he’s running with us.”

Bazile attended high school in New Bedford. His high school track coaches Jeremy Tilton and Isaiah Houtman painted a picture of Bazile as a compassionate, personable and dedicated young man.

“You have your athletes that you coach, and then you just have your athletes that are real close to you, close to your heart—Flo was that guy,” Tilton said. 

In the wake of Bazile’s death being ruled an “apparent suicide,” according to the Bristol County District Attorney's Office, many who spoke at the ceremony encouraged those in the audience who may be struggling with their mental health to seek help. 

“Please do not be afraid to reach out for somebody and talk to somebody,” Rodgers said. “We need help to get through this grieving process.”

Associate Catholic Chaplain Frank Lucca led the audience in prayer following a moment of silence. To make an appointment with the UMass Dartmouth Counseling Center, call 508-999-8648. The center’s crisis line for after-hour emergencies is 508-910-HELP. 

Moise Saint-Louis, the assistant dean and director of UMass Dartmouth’s Frederick Douglass Unity House, described Bazile as “decent, respectful, thoughtful, intelligent and sensible.” He said that Bazile was someone who supported others while making them “feel seen.”

“We saw him, we loved him, and yet, his suffering was not visible to us,” Saint-Louis said of Bazile’s unexpected death.

Saint-Louis encouraged people in the audience to actively support those who are suffering with mental illness. He said that Bazile’s compassion for others serves as an example of how people should care for each other. 

“No matter how much he was suffering, he understood the power and impact of his presence for us to feel supported …” he said. “If we want to remember and honor Flo, let us not do it in the abstract.”

Saint-Louis called on everyone in the audience to honor Bazile by doing their part to create community spaces built on acceptance, compassion and open dialogue about mental health. In doing this, he said these spaces will allow people suffering with mental illness to get the help they need. He encouraged people to seek help for those who appear to be struggling with their mental health.

“Let us decide to no longer speak of caring while acting without care,” he said. 

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, call or text 988 or log onto 988lifeline.org for help.