Remembering Ben Larson - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Remembering Ben Larson

By Diana Henry - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

PORT-AU-PRINCE (WKOW)-- More than 200,000 people died following the earthquake in Haiti in January. The loss of loved ones was felt here in Wisconsin.

La Crosse Wisconsin native Ben Larson was teaching Lutheran theology in Haiti in January.

"Ben you could tell loved Haiti," said Kez.

Ben studied at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Iowa and was working with young pastors at a newly formed church in Port-au-Prince.

Renee Dietrich helped Ben make arrangements to stay in the guesthouse portion of the St. Joseph's Boys Home.

Ben was at the guesthouse with his wife, Renee, and their cousin Jonathan when the earthquake hit.

"The difference between Ben dying and Renee living was 10 feet," said Renee.

Ben was just 25-years-old.

"When you go up the stairway, above us was where the dance theatre floor was and that's where Ben, Renee and John were when the earthquake struck," said Renee.

"When it struck they ran inside and the roof above them collapsed on top of them," said Renee.

What does it mean to you to have lost Ben?

"People come to us because this is a safe haven when they come to Haiti," said Renee. "Everything out there is kind of overwhelming. When they come into this house it is a house of peace, love and a house of joy."

What kinds of feelings come to you when you stand just feet away from where we lost Ben? I asked Renee.

"We were unlucky to lose Ben and that's a huge tragedy," said Renee. "You are looking at this and it could have been so much worse. 15 Minutes later we would have had every kid in chapel. We could have lost 20 of our kids and all of our leaders."

So are you living in your home or are you tenting? I asked Kez. "I'm inside now," said Kez.

Kez Furth lives next door to St. Joseph's.

She spent some time with Ben, Renee and Jonathan the day of the earthquake.

"And they came with me to Delma 31 where I walk through one of the ravines neighborhoods and treat children at their homes, so they came with me and gave me a hand for the day," said Kez.

That was the last time Kez saw Ben. The earthquake hit about two hours later.

"Ben was invested in Haiti and I think was going to do really great things here plus not to mention where ever he ended up a Pastor back in the states," said Kez. "So just to think we lost that kind of person and the effect that he could have had here is really sad."

And then on Friday--- you can continue to be a part of Haiti's rebuilding on Friday from 7pm to 8pm by donating. It's an one hour live special event: 'Wisconsin's Lifeline to Haiti.'

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