St. Peter Hosts Fundraiser for Family of Late Student

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FULTON - After the death of a 7-year-old boy in Mid-Missouri, community members joined together to offer the family a helping hand in the wake of tragedy. More than 100 people packed the St. Peter School gym at a benefit concert Sunday to support the family of Aaron Wyman. Wyman passed away unexpectedly February 1, 2013 from multiple health complications.

Wyman was a second grade student at St. Peter School in Fulton. Wyman's music teacher Shannon Cerneka described him as a very energetic child. "He was bounding with energy," said Cerneka. "He loved music, loved his family, and just honestly loved life. I know that probably sounds cliché, but he just put 100% into everything he did."

As spokesman for the Wyman family, Cerneka said there were no real warning signs. "He had not felt well for a couple of days," said Cerneka. "The family took him to the doctor on a Wednesday night, and by Thursday he was found unresponsive and he kind of spiraled downhill from there. He passed away Friday morning. The autopsy showed that he had undiagnosed asthma, bacteria pneumonia and para-influenza, not the flu. That's been sort of a misconception. So all three of those sort of worked in conjunction, and I guess his little body just couldn't handle it."

A few weeks ago, Cerneka discovered the family was experiencing financial hardship. "My heart just went out to them. I thought, well on top of losing a child, they're also dealing with having trouble paying regular bills," said Cerneka. "That's when I had the idea to do something, some sort of event that might draw some people and raise some money."

Cerneka, with the help of St. Peter's Home and School Association, organized the benefit concert to raise money for the family. The benefit featured music from Cerneka's Christian band, Oddwalk, food and family games. "With the great community here at St. Peter and in Fulton, I knew that if we put the right event together, people would come together and they did," explained Cerneka.

In just a few short hours, the community raised $4,052 for the Wyman family. The money raised will go toward paying for the Wyman family's medical bills and funeral expenses. "Those are expenses that you don't count on, that you don't want to have to count on," said the president of St. Peter's Home and School Association Shawn Edgar. "We're a big family here. We've got 70 students in our school that consist of about 45 to 50 families. Everybody knows everybody, and we always know if someone is in need."

Edgar described the response from the community as extremely positive. "We had a lot of families step up in different ways, and it turned into a fabulous night."

The benefit ended with a touching video of Aaron Wyman singing "Lean on Me." After the video, Cerneka's band performed the song again. Attendees stood, embraced each other, and sang with the band to honor the memory of Aaron Wyman.