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Grandmother creates memorial for slain grandson

7/31/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

Cuyahoga Falls resident and Woodridge Local Schools Board of Education member Tammy Heffernan has established a memorial fund for her grandson, Carter Sanson Heffernan, and his mother, Roseanna (Rosie) Sanson, both of whom are shown above, and is using the contributions to enlarge and improve the playground at her church, Northampton United Methodist, in Cuyahoga Falls.
Photo courtesy of Tammy Heffernan
CUYAHOGA FALLS — It’s a parent’s or grandparent’s worst nightmare: learning that your baby has died.

For Cuyahoga Falls resident Tammy Heffernan, the news Sept. 5, 2013, was even worse: her grandson, Carter Sanson Heffernan, had been killed in Florida. Carter, only 9 months old, and his mother, Roseanna (Rosie) Sanson, were stabbed to death by Rosie’s boyfriend, who then killed himself, according to Tampa Bay police. The baby’s father is Tammy’s son, Jeff Heffernan.

But Tammy Heffernan, a member of the Woodridge Local Schools Board of Education, has found a way to channel her grief into something positive and lasting. She established a memorial fund for Carter and Rosie and is using the contributions to enlarge and improve the playground at her church, Northampton United Methodist, in Cuyahoga Falls.

While she wishes she could see Carter playing there, she finds comfort in the knowledge that many other children will enjoy the facilities at Carter’s Crossing, as the site will be called. It will be used by the church’s preschool children and other children’s ministries and will be open to the community in the evenings and on weekends, she said.

Heffernan and her husband, Jim Borrell, and their good friends Cheryl and Kim Hoover have designed Carter’s Crossing. Along with Tammy’s son, Jeff; Rosie’s mother, Denise Sanson; Bill Ellis; and Tim Jones Excavating, they have already completed work that includes removing dead trees, regrading the site, building a retaining wall and expanding the fenced play area.

The next steps are final design, funding and construction of a bike path, Heffernan said.

The church is not paying for the work, she said, but rather, “It’s all through donations of product and services, donations of cash and labor of love” from family, friends and many in the community.

Other companies that are helping so far include W.L. Tucker Supply Co., Fred Azar Landscaping and Sherwin-Williams, she said. New play equipment has been donated by Little Tikes, she said, and the children will be able to ride tricycles, cars, fire engines, etc. on the new bike path. In addition, they are planting Roses for Rosie on an archway built by Craig Howdyshell at the entrance of Carter’s Crossing.

“People have been really touched and generous with this, and we are all so thankful,” Heffernan said.

Carter’s Crossing has not taken away her grief over losing her only grandchild, but she said it’s helping.

“Grief never goes away, but I am trying very hard to learn to live with it, and I believe this playground is a stepping stone for us,” she said. “As bittersweet as it is, I want to see kids enjoying the things Carter never will. That is the hardest part — most people who lose loved ones have years and years of memories. We have nine months.”

Carter was a “sweet, innocent little baby who deserved the world and tragically did not get it. He would have loved this playground,” she said.

Donations to the memorial fund and Carter’s Crossing are tax-deductible, she said. For more information, call her at 330-322-6952. Donations marked “Carter’s Crossing” may be sent to Northampton United Methodist Church at 852 W. Bath Road, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223.

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