STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – This week started with tragedy when a 4-year-old boy died in his mother’s arms after a shooting in Struthers. The week ends with him being remembered in so many ways across the Valley.
In just a few days, thousands of people are making sure Rowan Sweeney knows how loved he is. With just a simple color, the Struthers community is also fighting for justice, letting the red show they’ll never give up on the little Wildcat.
“This is Struthers, this is how we are. This is how we respond to things,” said Struthers Mayor Cat Cercone Miller.
Miller reflected on the past week.
“I just feel like a proud mom right now, between the way our safety forces reacted to everything and just the way our community comes together,” she said.
Losing Sweeney to such violence has sent ripples of grief throughout the City of Struthers and beyond.
“It has been horrible. It has been a tragedy,” said family-friend Brandi Blinsky.
But the close-knit community has already made it clear they won’t sit back or forget the little boy.
“I just felt like I needed to do something to help,” Blinsky said.
Blinsky created a fundraiser called Recess for Rowan to help raise money for a future playground in his honor.
“If I could do anything to make that happen, I was going to do it,” Blinsky said.
Blinsky is certainly not alone in her efforts to help. A public Facebook group called Justice for Rowan is full of people sharing their love and raising money to honor him — almost 2,000 people to be exact.
In just the past few days, people have created yard signs, car decals, mugs, T-shirts and sweatshirts, along with several fundraisers.
South Range Junior High School even decorated its buses.
“This is something we always do. Our community pulls together, no matter if it’s a big tragedy or something small,” Miller said.
On Perry Street, at the house where the 4-year-old lost his life, there’s a sea of Sweeney’s favorite color — red — as a symbol that he’ll never be forgotten.
“I’m praying that Rowan gets the justice he deserves. We just need to let his memory live on. He was a great kid,” Blinsky said.
Even as red ribbons blow in the wind and red lights shine, the tragedy is still all too real. But, the city’s leader said she knows they’ll get through it together.
“Stay strong. This is going to be a healing process for the city, and we will get through it together like we do everything. That’s what makes us Struthers,” Miller said.
Miller added that she has been working closely with the family regarding the park in Sweeney’s honor. She said in the next few days, they will release more specifics about the project and where people can donate.
More stories from WKBN.com: