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Worthington's Mitchell Benson memorialized with bench

Kyle Hain stands by a bench dedicated to the memory of best friend Mitchell Benson. Hain was one of many contributers that created the memorial.

WORTHINGTON -- Classmates, friends, co-workers and members of the community worked together to put up the bench dedicated to the memory of Mitchell Benson that now stands in Pleasant Park.

Benson, a Worthington graduate, died in an August car accident, but his memory lives on through the lives he touched.

Kyle Hain, a classmate and close friend of Benson, worked with Benson at the Worthington Parks Department.

"He was my oldest friend; I've known him since I was 3 years old," said Hain. "We grew up together."

Hain used his connection to the Parks Department to help organize and set up the memorial.

"I was approached by some friends, and they said they were getting some money together and weren't sure what to do with it," Hain said. "I thought about it, and with my connection to the Parks Department I thought about doing some sort of memorial."

Hain then talked to his boss, who put him in contact with people from Bedford Technology. Close friends of Benson helped collect money from people willing to donate.

"People heard and called and asked if we needed money," Hain said. "Our grade and his closest friends really kind of set it up."

Donators came from classmates, adults, kids from younger classes -- anyone Benson had an impact on, Hain said.

"There were so many people that helped out, I can't just mention a few," Hain noted.

The bench's location serves as a memento itself, according to Hain.

"The bench is at one of the parks he helped build, near his home and by the tennis courts that he played on," Hain said.

While working at the Parks Department, Benson assisted in the building of several parks, including Pleasant Park.

"Everybody at Parks loved him," Hain said. "Hands down, you can ask anybody, he was the hardest worker there."

Hain and his friends received more money than needed for the bench. They used the money to create bracelets that read "MJB Self-Made #10". Each part stands for something important to Benson.

MJB stands for his initials. "Self-Made" stands for how Benson saw himself, Hain said.

"We'd go to work from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then work out for two hours after, but he never really bragged about it or showed it off," Hain said. "It was self-made that he did that himself; everything that he worked for and tried to be was proof to himself. It was hard work, and the things he did were a reflection of himself."

The "#10" stands for Benson's hockey uniform number.

"It was his favorite sport and his oldest sport; that's where we met," said Hain. "We were both 3, couldn't stand up on skates, and were best friends ever since."

The bracelets were a last- minute addition, according to Hain. He contacted several of the people that helped out and asked them what they thought, and they agreed.

"It's just kind of something to take with you," said Hain. "He was an inspiration, and he never meant to be. He made everyone feel so special. Instead of bringing you down to bring himself up, he brought you up with him, and having the bracelet reminds you of your own self-worth."

While Hain helped organize the bench and bracelets, he was only one person among many who took part in creating the memorial.

"I can't emphasize enough how this wasn't just me," Hain said. "It was a combination of friends, donators, people from Bedford, co-workers -- just everybody who came together."

Daily Globe Reporter Brianna

Darling may be reached at 376-7321.