Father of Sandy Hook victim speaks at Ferris State University
After the death of his six-year-old son in 2012, David Wheeler partnered with his community to start a charity to help communities recovering from trauma. He also traveled across the country telling his son's story.
In 2012, David and Francine Wheeler had to face the unimaginable: their six-year-old son, Ben, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. As the community of Newtown, Connecticut, began to recover from the loss of 20 first-graders and six faculty members at the school, the Wheelers were driven to honor their son’s memory through charity.
Thus began Ben’s Lighthouse, an organization founded by the Newtown community and the Wheelers to help other children and communities recover from traumatic events. The charity hosts mentorship programs, service trips across the country, and community building activities and events.
David Wheeler, Ben’s father, spoke at Ferris State University last night to discuss the loss of his son, and how the tragedy drove his family to help foster a sense of community and compassion with kids to try and prevent another tragedy.
“When I look at the events that lead up to the morning of Friday, December 14th, 2012, it appears to me to be like a line of dominos,” he said, “Very specific things had to happen for those dominos to line up, and to have them fall the way they did that morning. But when I look at those dominos, all I can see are the spaces in between where someone could’ve stopped the next domino from falling.”
Wheeler said he learned many lessons from the loss of his son, but one in particular sticks out to him.
“You know, I still have a lot of big questions about what happened to us, and what happened to our family, and our school, and our community, and our town,” he said, “But I know one thing, why we are all here, and the answer is quite simply, that we are here to take care of each other.”
More information on Ben's Lighthouse can be found on https://benslighthouse.org/