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Sunnyside Residents to Hold Fundraiser for Family of Newtown Shooting Victim

Ben Wheeler (Photo: QueensPost)

Feb. 4, 2013 By Christian Murray

The Sunnyside community is coming together to raise funds for the family of Benjamin Wheeler, one of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.

Ben was the son of former Sunnyside residents David and Francine Wheeler, who were active members in the community through Sunnyside Gardens Park and many other local activities.  Ben’s brother Nate, now 9, played with many neighborhood children.

Sunnymoms, which is a large group of young mothers who organize play dates and events, is organizing the fundraiser, with the aim of raising thousands of dollars for the Ben Wheeler Fund. The group has already signed on sponsors, such as The Dog and the Duck, Bar 43 & Grill, Murphy’s Bar and Claret. The event has been scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23, from 5pm to 9pm at Sunnyside Community Services at 43-31 39th Street.

“David, Francine and Nate are wonderful people, a really giving, lovely family who have been dealt the worst kind of hand … any of us could imagine,” said Roger Hitts, a friend of the family. “We will do anything to help the family.”

The Wheelers left Sunnyside when Ben was 7 months but have remained in close touch with many Sunnysiders. In fact, a large contingent of Sunnyside residents traveled to Ben’s funeral.

A host of bands will be playing music throughout the evening – with many playing a number of songs by The Beatles, Ben’s favorite band.  Attendees will be provided with food and drink from local restaurants and there will be raffles and auctions.

Wristbands for food OR drink will be $15– or $25 for both. Children over the age of 6 years will be required to wear $5 wristbands, with younger children free. The wristbands will be sold at the door.

“It’s going to be a great time for the greatest of causes,” Hitts said. “We really want to lift the spirits of the Wheeler family and show how much they mean to us, and that they are still part of a larger family of friends here in Sunnyside.”


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heather mccray boltz

The community is raising money for the family. Why are there so many negative comments. Its beautiful and whatever they might need funds for, the sons therapy, funeral costs for their son that died, to set up a memorial scholarship, whatever it is, its a wonderful cause. Its obvious these people know the family and its a large group of local people from their previous community trying to help. Sometimes we give not always asking why or how just because its Gods will. Your beautiful son will never be forgotten. I have no connection to any of the children and still think daily of the babies who were lost on this horrific day and pray for the families for God’s guidance and for him to shine his face on these families.


It is poorly written — the article. I assume that the older child needs, at a minimum, therapy and professional support and insurance does not cover it. I assume that neither parent has been working since the tragedy (so a loss of income). I assume that the money will be going towards lobbying efforts.

I will be donating, but mainly because I cannot imagine the loss the family suffered. And if it helps in anyway, then that is worthwhile.

Another Sunnysider

Neither parents has been working much since their son was murdered. I believe Francine is a music teacher. The surviving son sang at the SuperBowl.

The parents have become advocates for workable gun regulation and that takes time and money too. I will be volunteering at the event. I remember the family when they lived here and they are wonderful people.


they said to raise money for the longterm care of their surviving son so i am assuming the son survived the attacks but maybe was gravely injured and needs medical aid for the rest of his life?


With the money, they can have a better life. Sounds like that to me. Will money bring this boy back? No, but money, makes everything better


I agree why is money being raised? Do the wheelers no longer work ? It just seems odd… This whole sandy hook scheme seems odd … Maybe it never happened the way they said it did.. Who knows can’t believe anything now adays


This article makes no sense. It’s terrible what happened to their family, but why exactly are they raising money? Why do they need financial support? I’m not trying to sounds callous, but typically when there is something like this it’s to help with hospital bills or the funeral or they had a loss of income due to the death, etc. This article, as well as Roger Hitts comment above still doesn’t explain anything. Right now it just sounds like something to make everyone feel better about themselves. Please explain exactly why they need this fundraiser.


People its only fifteen bucks and it goes a long way. Donating shows that we as sunnysiders care. And you get drinks, entertainment, and meet new people.
Flying to congressional hearings on gun control takes money. Faxing, contacting senators, and informing anti gun groups takes money.

Roger Hitts

Our benefit is being held with the knowledge and support of the Wheeler family. The money raised will be used to offer financial aid for the Wheeler family and help provide for long-term care of their surviving son Nate. Those who cannot attend but still wish to contribute can do so by sending checks to:
The Ben Wheeler Fund

c/o Newtown Savings Bank

39 Main St. Newtown, CT 06470

People can also donate securely via PayPal: click on “Transfer” then “Send Money” then use the email address: [email protected]

Thank you so much! the support we have received has touched all of our hearts.


Would the family prefer that we donate directly to a nonprofit/charitable organization in Ben’s honor instead? Has Sunnymoms checked with the family and their wishes?

The family’s pain is unimanginable, but I would want to follow thier wishes and if donating to a charity in Ben’s honor is what they want, I prefer to do that.

Please udpate the story and inform.

Many people in Sunnyside hearts are broken with the family, and we want to support them, but in a manner that reflects and respects their wishes.


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