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By: Brendan McDonough
Reporter for North Tonawanda
On Wednesday, October 24th, 2018, city leaders along with friends, family and loved ones took part in the opening ceremony of the new Children’s Remembrance Garden.
The park is located in Brauer Park – right across from City Hall – and is designed for people of all ages to come and remember those whose lives were taken too soon.
For Mary Beth Kupiec it’s a place to come and remember her son Brandon. He passed away five years ago; he was just 20-years-old.
“It just means the world to me that the City and other partners would donate their time and talent to build something like this in memory of our children,” said Kupiec.
The City received a $50,000 grant from Senator Robert Ortt’s office and another $42,000 from Assemblyman Robin Schimminger’s office.
For the past three years residents and volunteers have been working to build this park. A park which, if not for the persistence and passion of Mayor Art Pappas and his wife Linda, would not have been able to come to fruition.
“Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who try, best things come to those who believe in their efforts,” said Mayor Pappas. “This project started three years ago and, if you look around, it exceeds all expectations.
At the entrance of the memorial are the names of children being remembered. Benches are all around for people to sit and reflect.
For Kupiec, the sculpture of doves flying in the middle of the memorial has an extra special meaning because her son was a welder.
“Brandon was dedicated to the community as well,” said Kupiec. “He was a welder, so the sculpture in the middle – which is welded medal – is pretty sentimental to me.”
Tearing up, Kupiec finished by stating, [Brandon] would be absolutely thrilled.”
As two doves were released during the ceremony multiple songs were sung by local North Tonawanda students.
“This is something that is really unique to North Tonawanda and is one of those things that people will remember when they think of North Tonawanda,” said Senator Robert Ortt. “They are going to think of this remembrance garden.”
Paula Benadyczak has been one of the people who made this garden become a reality. She lost her 16-year-old son Jordan seven years ago an
“Losing a child is the worst pain a parent can endure,” said Benadyczak. “We now have this garden where we can find peace. I have incredible solace knowing that our loved ones will never be forgotten by our community.”
The memorial is open for anyone to experience. For family members a place to remember loved ones taken too soon as tears of sadness are filled with comfort while remembering loved ones and the joy they brought to so many people during their short time here.