Editor’s Note: Ricky Finlay was the 2020 Salute to Framingham honoree. The ceremony in 2020 was cancelled due to the pandemic. The 2021 ceremony was held virtually due to the pandemic. This is Finlay’s speech he made virtually in accepting the award in May.
FRAMINGHAM – Thank you to everyone who is here tonight. Before I get started, I would like to wish my son, Bobby, a happy 12th birthday today. There is a lot for us to celebrate this evening. I love Framingham.
Everything I have done has come from this deep love of the place we all call home. My parents and grandparents showed my brothers, sisters and I the importance of giving back to your neighbors and where you live.
My dad is my role model.
I wanted to be just like him. He was a Framingham firefighter who would do anything for Framingham. Dad showed me the true meaning of hard work, courage and pride in Framingham. I used to follow him to all of the events and activities he would participate in town. My grandparents also instilled this love of home in me at a young age. They would take us to the Friday night concerts at the old Shoppers World where so many people came together. They were involved with organizing the first Flag Day Parade, and we all marched in that parade as clowns!
I think of my Dad and grandparents all the time. I know they are looking down at me right now with a big grin on their faces. Thanks, Dad, for your example and giving me the greatest gift. Not only did I learn a love of Framingham from them, but how important it is for everyone to come together to get the job done. No one is successful by themselves.
As many know, I have always advocated for our students, and the elimination of the athletic or activity fees. These fees were an added burden on so many families and prevented many kids from participating. The fees would not have been eliminated if I did not get the support from my fellow School Committee members and the Administration. We worked together to make participating in sports and activities a possibility.
I was interviewed by the AP Government class last year, and one of the students told me how grateful he was for the ending of these fees because it opened a door for him to participate. Knowing I made a difference in his life just made my day.
Advocating for our kids is my way of paying it forward.
I will never forget those teachers who went out of their way to help me when I was in high school. Thank you Joe Antonioli, Rich Rebecchi and Susan Whittaker. I always struggled in school and had to work really hard. They took me under their wings, and never let me fail. They were a gift to me. Everyone in life needs a role model besides their parents and someone to talk to – they were there for me in my most important years of high school. I carry their kindness with me.
I would not be here tonight if it was not for the love and support of my family. To my wife, Tricia, thank you for always being by my side. I love you. To Olivia and Bobby, thank you for being the best. I am so proud of both of you.
Thank you to the Framingham High School Foundation for this evening’s honor. I am thankful for your great work to provide things for our students that cannot be covered under the school budget.
This award means to me more than you can imagine. I am proud of the work I have done over the last thirty years, but I am certainly not finished. There is much more we all need to do for Framingham and our kids.
Thank you to everyone at Salute to Framingham tonight. Thank you for all you do for Framingham, and for recognizing those being honored tonight for their accomplishments. Events like tonight should remind us all of what a great community we live in. Let’s all spend more time and get involved. I love Framingham so much and am grateful for what it has given me. Thank you.