Gone too soon, for sure.
But James Henry Bennett, who died July 30 at 14, managed to leave an indelible mark upon the hearts of so many: family, friends, the medical staff at Akron Children’s Hospital, the Revere School District as well as strangers.
James was such a positive force in the face of all that was before him — myriad illnesses that started with the diagnosis 16 months ago of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but quickly mushroomed into adenovirus (a complicated infection in the respiratory system), the removal of his colon and finally encephalitis.
In keeping with his dying wish “not to be forgotten,” several have come forward, whom I’ve mentioned in earlier columns, to not let that happen, including performing acts of kindness in his name.
The latest one, very definitely in his honor, hit very close to home. In fact, it was at the Richfield home he shared with his mother, Sarah Mader Bennett.
Jim Bukowski, who heads Akron Roofing Co., learned through this column that the roof on the 1850 farmhouse was in bad shape. Bukowski quietly measured it and assigned six employees to the job.
I don’t mind telling you, dear readers, I had a difficult job getting Bukowski to talk about his good deed. He didn’t do it for publicity, he wanted me to know.
Finally he did talk about what drew him to the project. “Basically what they were going through just touched me. And I wanted to help,” a reluctant Bukowski shared.
“I have two daughters and as it turned out my oldest daughter would have been in school with him, his classmate at Revere. I didn’t realize that until we went to orientation and they announced he had passed. The school was doing a small fundraiser for the family.”
The project involved a complete roof tear-off, as it had several leaks. Bukowski and company replaced the roof with the same color shingles — black.
“All of my guys were glad to do it,” said Bukowski, who paid them for their time but did not charge James’ mother anything.
As he said, “I was just glad to do it.”
It was an expensive undertaking, something I know James had worried about. Now he really can rest in peace.
That has to be ultra-comforting for the mother who lives there, who lost her only child, to know that instead of leaks from the roof, it’s beautiful blessings that are now raining down on her.
Here’s hoping Jim Bukowski won’t be inundated with pleas for help, as this was a monumental act of generosity. Time for him to turn his attention to his paying customers now.
Present for burn victim
Yet another it’s-just-nice-to-be-nice story.
Copley resident Nathaniel Harris, proprietor of Akron-based Nathaniel Harris & Son trucking, was nudged into reading my column about 9-year-old burn victim Jayden Wallace by his 3-year-old daughter. “Look, Daddy. Somebody’s sick,” Harris said his not-yet-reading-but-observant daughter said.
“When I read about that young man’s strength and what he is going through and yet his kid spirit still comes through, it just touched me,” he said.
“I always said if I have the opportunity to help someone I would … My family and I have been blessed and we would like to be a blessing to someone else.”
That’s why Harris volunteered to purchase the XBox360 Jayden told me he wants. Call it an early Christmas gift.
By the way, I had to twist Harris’ arm to allow me to use his name.
Bouquets to Troop 1157
Big, beautiful bouquets to Hudson Cadette Girl Scout Troop 1157 for the huge effort put forth on behalf of OPEN M (Opportunity for People Everywhere in Need Ministry), a comprehensive, faith-based ministry on Akron’s Princeton Street helping low-income residents meet spiritual and physical challenges.
The four Hudson Middle School students — Morgan Fields, Natalie Schwarz, Emily Shawd and Holly Damante — “created a one-day, three-station ‘Back-to-School’ program for Akron preschool and kindergarten children,” wrote Girl Scout volunteer journalist Kristin Shawd.
“In addition to designing and running the camp, the girls also worked with local Hudson vendors (Discount Drug Mart, Ace Hardware, Callahan’s Carpet and the Krylon Color Team of Sherwin Williams) to obtain 20 backpacks full of supplies for campers, 30 carpet squares for floor-time activities, wall paint and chalkboard paint which the girls put to use on their ‘painting day’ to brighten up OPEN M’s classroom and to add a giant chalkboard to the organization’s youth loft area.”
The Scouts were able to fund part of the project through cookie sales.
This effort earned them their Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest award in scouting, and a September rafting and caving trip to Ohiopyle and Laurel Caverns in Pennsylvania to celebrate with troop mates Amy O’Connor and Madi Casey.
All Star Training Club is sponsoring a Monte Carlo Night fundraiser 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 10, at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, 15 N. Maple St., Akron.
Proceeds will go to provide financial support for more than 200 local athletes who will be attending Ohio Special Olympics in 2013. Cost is $35, $50 for a couple.
All Star Training Club is a nonprofit that provides sports programs for persons with disabilities. It presently has more than 800 athletes on its roster.
Equipment for disabled
Jeffrey C. Thomas would like to find a deserving home for items used by his father who recently died.
They include a lift chair, a portable lift chair, a wheelchair, shower chairs, various other aids for those who are handicapped.
Interested? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Evening for India’ set
An “Evening for India,” a semi-formal fundraiser aimed at igniting aid for the poor in rural India, is planned for 5 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Bertram Inn, 600 N. Aurora Road, Aurora.
The event, sponsored by the India Gospel League (IGL), includes highlights from India, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, a silent auction, live entertainment, videos and more.
“Most of the 1.2 billion people living in India reside in underdeveloped, poverty-stricken rural villages that lack education, health care or even clean drinking water,” said Paula McQueen, local IGL spokeswoman.
“India Gospel League is a nonprofit organization that brings to rural Indian culture best care in each of those areas.”
For more information or tickets, which start at $50, please call 330-650-5900 or email email@example.com.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.