STRUTHERS, Ohio (WYTV) – Remembering Rowan Sweeney — the little boy was four years old when he was shot and killed inside a home in Struthers back in September.
Since then, the entire community has wrapped its arms around his loved ones and friends left behind, and that includes working on plans for a park in his memory. David Sweeney, Rowan’s dad, has been working tirelessly to build that park in Rowan’s honor.
On Friday, David showed us what they’re doing to not only remember Rowan during the holidays but bring a little happiness to other children this season.
“A bag with his name on it. It’s heartwarming,” he said.
The bags are filled with candy, ornaments, gift cards and love.
“He would just love that this is being done for him,” David said.
That’s what you may find inside a Rowan Reindeer Brigade Bag — a drawstring filled with holiday favorites and goodies Rowan would want. The drawstrings are thanks to Kufleitner of Boardman.
“Christmas was probably one of his favorites. It’s going to be tough not celebrating with him but at least we can celebrate it through him,” David said.
Everything inside the Reindeer Bag is donated, even the space at the Stone Quarry Banquet Center was offered to pack the bags, thanks to Leah Ashton.
All proceeds are going toward Rowan’s Memorial Park, a playground that David wants to build in Rowan’s memory.
“This all just means the world to me right now. It’s what I can hang on to right now. It’s something I can look forward to in a time of darkness,” David said.
So far, they’ve raised about $50,000 to build the park, $20,000 from the pasta dinner and raffle back in November.
David says what they’ve been able to raise so far couldn’t have happened without the support from the entire community.
“I’m so honored to call myself Rowan’s father and this is the least I can do for him,” David said.
David says they’re announcing more detailed plans for the park soon and hopefully they’ll narrow in on the perfect location for Rowan’s park.
Reindeer Bags are still available on the Rowan’s Memorial Park website for $20 or by calling Vicki Dugan at 330-550-4210. You can also buy a sign for an extra $5.
Plenty of apparel and yard signs are still available.
If you want to support the Reindeer Bags fundraiser but don’t have a child in mind, you can still donate one on their website (linked above). There is a limited supply of bags.
The group is currently delivering the bags on Dec. 6 from 7-11 p.m. in Mahoning County, but can make arrangements for other counties.
The group organizing the bags would also like to thank their close friends on their Facebook groups for supplying items on their Amazon wishlist and local restaurants who donated kids meals for the bags.
Upcoming events for Rowan include a breakfast with the Easter bunny, a car show, a bike cruise and Dine to Donate nights. Check back with their website (linked above) for more information.