By Lindsay Carey
The Southington community has recently stepped up to memorialize Ben Buckley, a seven-year-old boy who passed away in January from a severe asthma attack. Ben was a second grader at Thalberg Elementary School.
During the spring, there was a family fun fitness day at Crossfit Factory Square called “Buckley Strong.” The event was a fundraiser to build a bench on Rails to Trails, in honor of the young boy.
The fundraiser raised $2,600, which was enough for the bench and a $1,300 donation towards the foundation his family has started called “Prayers for Ben Buckley,” which will help provide scholarship opportunities.
The bench was unveiled to the Buckley family on Thursday, August 21 by Duane Howard, Pam Swain, Bobby Vargo, Becky Richards, and Mike D’angelo.
The blue bench has a brass plaque on it reads “Ben was here,” a phrase created on social media, shortly after his passing.
“We have so many teachers and the whole town was affected by it,” said Vargo, Owner of Crossfit Factory Square, which provided the event space.
Everything from water bottles and food was donated for the family fun day from local businesses and individuals who wanted to support the event.
“The event wouldn’t have happened without them,” said Howard. “Southington is such a close knit town and everybody wanted to do something for Ben.
Buckley will also be memorializing that “Ben was here” on Rails to Trails through a mural. Mary DeCroce, president of Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA), along with other artists was commissioned by Deborah Turner for the project.
Turner’s son Kolby had played with Buckley and his twin Adam for the Western baseball league and is also a Thalberg School student.
“I was running on Rails to Trails looking at the murals Mary did for the Newtown kids and I thought wouldn’t this be a fabulous way to continue to show respect for Ben by putting together a mural to show everything that he loved,” said Turner.
The mural will depict a train of all the different things that represented who Buckley was and the things he valued most.
The project is estimated to cost $3,000 and organizers are looking for financial support. For those that want to donate to help fund the project, checks can be made payable to SCCA P.O. Box 50, Southington, CT, 06489 and a Tax ID number can be provided upon request.
“We want to continue to remember him and never forget,” said Turner.