Last week, Faithwire shared the inspiring story of Ben Callahan, a 10-year-old boy from Connecticut whose tragic death earlier this month has shed light on his amazing Christian faith. In the aftermath of such a great loss, Ben’s father, Dave Callahan, has stressed that prayer and reliance on Jesus are the only things getting his family through.
“We are just totally leaning and letting Jesus be strong,” he told zip06.com.
In the wake of Ben’s death, the Callahan family’s amazing witness is bringing thousands of people from all over the country to their knees.
“Not to say that it doesn’t hurt,” Dave Callahan told the ShoreLine Times. “It obviously does, but it’s alright and with the flood of people who have reached out to me and have said, ‘Hey, you know, I haven’t picked up my Bible in 10 years, but I got out of bed tonight and I went and I read.’”
Ben Callahan died on Juy 7 after being sucked into a four-foot pipe near the Branford River. He was playing with his brothers, Cooper and Scout, who fought the strong current to try to rescue Ben.
“If it was Ben’s time it could have been a tree, it could have been a car, it could have been bad food, it could have been anything,” Dave Callahan, who calls his son’s “heroes” for acting quickly that day, said. “The method of his end I don’t think speaks to any problem.”
“They were boys being boys and that’s what they should have done. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, honestly,” he added.
While knowing that Ben’s faith was strong has provided tremendous comfort to the Callahan family, his loss is felt every day. Still, Dave Callahan stressed that he doesn’t regret a single moment of his son’s short life.
“Ten years ago if God had put out an advertisement that said, ‘Hey, does anybody want to have three awesome little kids that are going to affect the world and jam 10 huge years of life in 10 years and there’s a chance that at the end of 10 years you’re going to lose one, would you sign up for that job?’ I think everybody would,” he said. “I definitely would have. So, I’m OK with a 10 year project.”
“Playing the ‘what if’ game is silly or the ‘what could have been’ game. It’s not the ‘what could have been game.’ He was perfect for the time he was here,” he added.
Those who knew Ben best remember the 10-year-old as a dedicated student, a committed athlete, and most of all, a hugger.
Speaking at a memorial vigil earlier this month in Branford, Connecticut, Ben’s friends, Eric and Jeter, described the profound effect Ben had on their lives. They told the crowd that at first, they weren’t used to receiving hugs “Ben style,” because they “were kind of shy.”
“The more uncomfortable we were, the harder Ben hugged us,” they said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “Ben would just not give up. After a while we just accepted it. Two things we learned from Ben: Never give up, and always hug your friends.”
Ben’s trademark show of affection has inspired others to give “Hugs for Ben” in his honor.
“Everybody is just so incredibly supportive, just hugs everywhere,” Callahan told the ShoreLine Times. “We love that ‘Hugs for Ben’ thing. People are taking it real seriously.”
Callahan shared that even at his wife, Paula Callahan’s work, they have introduced a new “Hugs for Ben” policy.
“My wife’s nurse manager made a new policy that after you finish your shift change, given your report, you have to now give a hug,” he said of his wife’s work as a nurse at St. Raphael at Yale New Haven Hospital.
This past Saturday, Shoreline Athletics hosted a workout fundraiser event to raise money for the Ben Callahan Foundation, a charity established to honor individuals who embody Ben’s values.
“We had a great turnout, the flow was tremendous, the competition ran seamless, and the vibe was incredible,” said Shoreline Athletics co-owner David Plumey. “A lot of love, a lot of hugs, a lot of friends, a lot of people in the fitness community coming together to support the family.”
Dave Callahan and his family have been encouraged by the outpouring of support and personal stories of people who have been affected by Ben’s extraordinary faith.
“All of those stories, like I said, ‘if he’s in heaven, that’s awesome, that’s where he’s supposed to be,” he said. “But, if his story, the fact that he had to go in 10 [years], brings a thousand more people to heaven in the end of time it’s totally worth it.”