Woodford County, Kentucky (Lex 18) – Woodford County and the surrounding communities come together to celebrate and honor the life of an 8-year-old student killed in a car accident. The people of Mercer County are using their skills and talents to create a memorial seat in his honor.
Welders on Campbellsville University’s campus in Harrodsburg work on a memorial bench for 8-year-old Ritter Ballston, who lost his life last week after a car crash in Lexington.
“We started on Tuesday morning and here we are on Wednesday morning, and you can see the bench is well designed and we are going to do some finishing touches,” says welding coach Jim Lamirandi.
Lamirande has grandchildren at Huntertown Elementary School. His daughter thought this would be a great way to honor Ritter. As a former elementary school teacher who has lost students over the years, he knows that losses like this affect the entire community.
“Residents of Versailles and Woodford County are saying, ‘Hello these folks come together out of the community and really help honor this young man,’” Lamirande said.
Once the project for this shop is complete, there will be over 40 hours of work on this bench – a memory that will last for generations.
“One of the students asked the teacher if they were going to make a seat for Ritter,” said Ellen Kaiser, principal of Huntertown Elementary School. “So when Jim called me, it was really good because this kid is going to see his classmate’s seat.”
Ritter’s bench will be placed in the school with a tree and flowers. School leaders say this is an area frequented by students and has become a memorial park for other students who have died. Jim hopes the students will always keep Ritter in their memory.
Lamirande believes Ritter will not be forgotten.
“I think that’s going to be the biggest part because he’s so young, he’s a second-grader, he’s spent another four years in that school, and the kids who grow up move on to middle school and high school, and they still see this seat in his honor,” Lamirandi said.
Campbellsville University staff say this welding project is directly in line with their core values - they work with others to make a difference. The seat is expected to be installed at the school early next week.