WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been nine months since Matthew Dennison passed away, but everyone is making sure he is never forgotten.
He was the captain of the West Warwick/Exeter-West Greenwich high school hockey team alongside McDonald.
Now, the team and the city are honoring Matt on Saturday when they retire his number, and a banner with the number 16 will hang from the rafters in the West Warwick Ice Rink.
“It will undoubtedly be very emotional,” his father Mark Dennison said. “There’s no question about it.”
Dennison told 12 News that the support his family has received has been tremendous.
“When we heard that his number 16 was going to be retired we were just so honored,” he said. “We couldn’t believe that they would bestow that honor upon Matthew and really our family.”
As the high school hockey season is underway, Mark says the hockey community has been a huge part of their support system.
“We get notes and words of encouragement daily from friends, family, people we don’t know and it means a lot to us,” Mark said.
Mark, his wife Brenda and his daughter Katie all channeled their energy to make sure Matthew was never forgotten and that situations like this don’t happen again.
“It’s something we never realized we’d be doing,” he explained. “The goal now is to do whatever we can do to make sure that no other family experiences what we are experiencing right now.”
Less than two months after Matthew’s passing, his family created the Matthew Dennison Charitable Foundation (“MD16”), which continues his legacy by promoting student athletics, leadership, education, and community outreach.
The goal of the foundation is to give back to the community by providing college scholarships, & hockey-based assistance to individuals and organizations in need, and to provide support to victims of senseless DUI-related tragedies.
“The foundation is really there to help support the community and give back,” Mark said.
A new logo for the foundation was also introduced this week. It’s a silhouette of Matthew, one of his senior portraits according to Mark and his name is written in his own handwriting.
“It means so much to us just to keep Matthew’s memory alive and just know that he meant so much to everybody and had such an effect on the community,” Mark said.
Matthew’s jersey will be retired at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Benny Magiera Ice Rink in West Warwick.