A 5-year-old who lost her battle with a rare type of cancer back in February is being remembered in a special way at the school where she attended kindergarten. On Oct. 9, Haleigh Peden-Clemons’ friends and family from church and school watched as her parents, Jerry and Rhonda Clemons, unveiled a memorial bench adorned with a bright green dragon at East Cheatham Elementary. Principal Paul Boles said the metal bench’s home is in the entryway, where everyone will see it when they walk in the doors.
The bench is truly a piece of art, and it symbolizes who Haleigh was, said Tyler Binkley, Youth Minister at Bearwallow Road Church of Christ and Special Education Teaching Assistant at ECES. “She was a bright light who lit up our lives for the short time she was here,” Binkley said. “And the bench is strong. When Haleigh was here, she was strong despite fighting the pain. She was always concentrating on helping other people,” he added.
The East Cheatham PTO came up with the idea for the memorial bench, and five students teamed up to set up a lemonade stand back in the spring to raise the nearly $900 for the bench: Taylor and Brody Binkley, Cayren Fish, Jaylen Gay, and Colton Hasse. Local craftsman Jason Wofford created the bench, and Kristi Eller painted the cheery dragon mascot in bright green and yellow hues.