By Bill Parry
David and Francine Wheeler, a couple originally from Sunnyside, welcomed a new son to their family Nov. 5 nearly two years after losing their 6-year-old Ben in the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Matthew Bennett Wheeler weighed in at a healthy 8 pounds, 8 ounces. The couple told CBS News that their new baby “was bringing light and joy into our lives.”
The Wheelers gained national recognition in the wake of the tragedy as anti-gun advocates after Adam Lanza massacred 20 schoolchildren and six staff members at the Newtown, Conn., school. He also killed his mother before ultimately committing suicide.
In September 2013, Benjamin’s memory was honored when 41st Street and Queens Boulevard was co-named “Benjamin Wheeler Way.” The Wheelers attended the ceremony with their son Nate, who pulled the covering off the sign.
“These are the blocks where Ben first saw the world,” David Wheeler told the crowd. “When he came home from Roosevelt Hospital, it was the blocks here, and now this street will carry his name.”
The Sunnyside community came together in a candlelight vigil following the shooting, and Sunnymoms, the parenting network co-founded by Francine, held a successful fund-raiser for the family at Sunnyside Community Services center.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4538.