By Claire (Gaudry) Sponseller — Apr 15, 2020
I grew up with Ben in elementary school. He and I always ended up in the middle back for class photos as we were always the tallest in class. Every. Year. He was always quiet, but when he spoke everyone listened, because he never wasted his words. He was liked and respected by all of us, getting along with everyone. In elementary school, you can imagine how big a deal that was.
One memory has always stuck with me about Ben from 8th grade. Mrs. Middleton had us writing haikus and this day she chose to read a few of them in front of the class and we had to guess who wrote each one. Ben's stuck out, and still does to this day, because he described himself as a diamond in the rough. That made me really think and pause, because he knew who he was at that age: he was confident, saw his value and was proud of it. I was in awe and hoped to grow into someone like that.
Nicki and I met in high school and became very close friends. She taught me so much, but especially how to be confident in who I am, don't be afraid to be different. Wish I was closer to help you all right now!
My thoughts and prayers are for all of you. It has been many years since they were in my life, but both Ben and Nicki left an impact. I cannot imagine what you all are going through there. Praying for comfort for you all during this time.