Playground bench in memory of North Haven boy

NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A little boy is gone, but he is certainly not being forgotten at a school in North Haven. A heart defect took his life but his spirit lives on thanks to a dedication at the Montowese school.

Montowese Elementary School in North Haven remembers a student who should be there by dedicating a playground bench to Matthew “Matty” Jacques.

“He just lit up the room. You would never know there was anything wrong with him,” said Lara Silvestro, his Kindergarten teacher.

Last year Matty’s school collected pennies to help with his medical bills.

All his young life he had trouble with his heart, and he told News 8 he needed…

“A new one,” he said last year.

Matthew Jacques

The whole community helped out. The football team even let him score a touchdown in a game last spring. He finally got that transplant, but last September he died from complications with that surgery.

The Jacques family spent years raising funds to try to help Matty. Now that he’s gone, the family is still raising money, but they’ve moved beyond Matthew to help other families in need too.

Last Christmas they helped donate dozens of stuffed monkeys to the pediatric unit at Yale New Haven Hospital.

“We’re trying our best to try and carry on Matthew’s name and legacy and everything that he tried to do. He was always there to help someone else with such a bright spirit and we want to continue that,” said Melissa Jacques, Matthew’s mother.

“I can still see him in my classroom and I still see him in that chair I tutored him in, smiling and making me laugh,” said Silvestro.

To symbolize that spirit, the school released butterflies and one of them went right to Matthew’s dad. That spirit will now watch over this playground.

“And this was where he would come to play. So to have his name here permanently, there’s just no words on how grateful we are for this,” said Melissa Jacques.

Matthew Jacques football game

You saw Matthew score a touchdown during North Haven High School’s spring brawl football game last year. This year’s is coming up Friday and this time it benefits a 7-year-old with brain cancer.

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