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Benny's going fishing: Make-A-Wish Connecticut gives boat to local boy

Montville — Four-year-old Bennett "Benny" Lundy was all smiles Sunday afternoon when Make-A-Wish and the Oakdale Fire Company surprised him with his monthslong wish: a new bass boat.

"How fitting that on the anniversary of our 35 years, we grant Benny's wish for a bass boat," said Carin Buckham, the communications manager at Make-A-Wish Connecticut.

Benny, who has battled Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) cancer for a year, is obsessed with fish and fishing. He often goes fishing with his grandfather and his father.

"He's been around it his whole life," said Stephanie Lundy, Benny's mother.

She described how Benny refused to change his mind about wanting anything else. Fishing during weekends and breaks with his family has brought him joy in the midst of his cancer treatments.

Benny's grandparents, Brett and Laure Lundy, flew from Alabama to see their grandchild get his wish granted. Brett Lundy said fishing ran in the family — he did it with his dad, with his son and now his grandchildren.

The Lundy family thanked the doctors at Connecticut Children's Hospital for referring them to Make-A-Wish program and A&S Boats in South Windsor for making Benny's wish a reality.

Make-A-Wish volunteers Karii-Ann Antonelli and Kit Hartford said they first contacted Benny in January via Zoom, where he showed them his collection of fishing magazines and told them he wished for a boat. Their job was to keep him excited about his wish and stayed in contact with him until Sunday, when they surprised him with the boat. 

"The fun part is putting everything together," said Antonelli.

They also reached out to the fire company about hosting the surprise. Chief Micah Messer said there was no question about doing it. 

"It's heartwarming to know the community will get together especially during hard times like what Benny is going through," he added.

The Oakdale fire company as well as the other departments in town — Chesterfield, Mohegan and Montville — also held a parade with 13 fire trucks and one state trooper that carried Benny from his home to the station where the boat was parked. 

Family and friends all awaited Benny's arrival, carrying colorful signs that read things like "The Brave and Mighty Benny!" and "Benny is my favorite superhero." Many of them knew the Lundy family from Douglas Lundy's service in the Navy.

When Benny got to the fire department, he was led over to the boat, where his dad, Douglas, helped him get aboard. He had a big smile on his face as he swung his feet on the chair.   

"Benny is like my own," said Jellyn Gable, a military family friend of six years. She described Benny as always being a "happy" boy and found it "very shocking" when she learned he had cancer.

With tears in her eyes, Gable added she was happy Benny finally got the boat he long asked for.

j.vazquez@theday.com

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