“Right now we’re going through a grieving process and it’s been very difficult,” Bennett said. “What we need to have is (a) focus on comforting the children that are here.”
Bennett said classes are trying to heal in their own ways and teachers are doing their best to console Ben’s classmates, who Bennett said miss him. Some classes are creating memory books or banners while others are collecting donations that will go toward a scholarship fund the family hopes to create in Ben’s name. It’s a way for students to “celebrate his life” she said.
When the news first spread about a week ago that Ben was in the hospital after suffering from an asthma attack, thousands of people reached out to show their support.
A Facebook page called “Prayers for Ben” was created on Jan. 21. It has since garnered more than 9,600 “likes.” People from town and all over the country have been posting on the site, sending the family their condolences.
Victoria Triano, a town councilor and ordained minister, posted her condolences on the Facebook page. She said Ben had “touched her life.” She did not know Ben or the family personally, but was amazed at the impact he had on the town. Many people who didn’t know the family were also touched by their story.
“It is a rare thing that someone’s life could draw the whole community together,” Triano said. “Ben acted as a conduit for love and concern and prayers. The whole community has been touched by Ben’s life.”
Sgt. Jeffrey Dobratz, Southington police spokesman, said the department has also been trying to support the family where they can. Dobratz said officers responded to the original medical call and “from there we made a connection,” Dobratz said.
A family friend established a fundraising site for Ben on GiveFoward.com. So far 237 people have made donations totaling $15,889 that will go toward the scholarship fund.
“Ben’s warm smile and carefree personality made everyone who knew him a better person,” reads the GiveFoward site for Ben.
Ben played baseball in the Western Little League and loved the Boston Red Sox, according to the site. He was also an “aspiring artist.”