WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — For years, Matthew Dennison called the Benny Magiera Memorial Ice Rink in West Warwick home.
Soon, the 17-year-old’s legacy will live on forever there as part of a memorial plaza being designed between the ice rink and the West Warwick Civic Center.
Dennison died earlier this year after the car he was riding in was hit head on by an alleged drunk driver. The teenager was critically wounded and spent nearly a month in the hospital before succumbing to the injuries.
Dennison was the captain of the West Warwick/Exeter-West Greenwich high school hockey team alongside his best friend Kevin McDonald, who was also injured in the crash.
The teenager’s parents, Mark and Brenda Dennison, tell 12 News the idea to create a memorial for their son first came from Read’s Landscape Construction.
“They didn’t know us and we didn’t know them, but they heard our story and wanted to do something for us,” Mark recalled.
The Dennisons worked with the landscaping company and Moya Design to create the memorial, which would include a life-sized bronze statue of Matthew in his hockey jersey and ice skates.
The design also calls for a water basin of sorts at the foot of the statue.
“When it freezes, he will be skating again,” Brenda said. “He’ll be on the ice, on the skates. It’ll be absolutely beautiful.”
The memorial has since blossomed into a much larger project following input from the town and school district.
It now consists of a plaza to not only honor Matthew, but also other West Warwick teenagers whose lives were cut short.
The West Warwick Town Council reviewed renderings of the “Matthew Dennison Memorial Plaza” for the first time Tuesday night.
“Everyone who has seen it … they’ve loved the idea,” Mark said. “This isn’t something we were looking to do, this was brought to us. He really did leave his mark on this world in his 17 short years.”
Matthew’s portion of the memorial is being funded by Read’s Landscape Construction and the Matthew Dennison Charitable Foundation. The rest of the memorial plaza will be financed by the town, according to Mark.
The Dennisons said the landscaping company hopes to break ground on the memorial in spring 2023.