Benefit in Roanoke Sunday for family of Deacon Heckman

Photo Caption: Deacon Andy Heckman died on Feb. 5 after undergoing a heart and kidney transplant in Chicago.

ROANOKE — Friends of the late Deacon Andy Heckman are planning a memorial benefit in support of his family for Sunday, April 6, at Roanoke-Benson High School, 208 W. High St. Doors open at 3 p.m.

The event includes a silent auction, with such items as a one-week stay at a Marriott resort in Orlando and a Kate Spade wallet and handbag. Those who would like to view the silent auction items may come to a bake sale on Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the high school

Any goodies that aren’t sold at the bake sale will be available for purchase at the benefit on April 6, along with Rotary pork chops, hot dogs, ice cream and more. A raffle will also be held.

Entertainment starts at 3:30 p.m. with the Roanoke-Benson High School Band and continues with performances by the Roanoke-Benson High School Choir at 4 p.m., the Roanoke United Methodist Church Choir at 4:30 p.m. The Bellflower Country Opry, which offers a Branson-style show, will take the stage at 5 p.m.

“Deacon Andy became a dear friend of mine and was just an inspiration spiritually,” said Trent Monge, one of the benefit’s organizers and a member of St. Joseph Parish in Roanoke. “We think he’s an awesome guy and they’re an awesome family and we would like to give them as much support as we can get.”

Deacon Heckman died on Feb. 5, after undergoing a heart and kidney transplant at the University of Chicago Hospital in Chicago. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and daughters Lottie, a seventh-grader at Roanoke-Benson Junior High School, and Frannie, a fourth-grader at Sowers Elementary School.

Deacon Heckman was ordained to the permanent diaconate on May 19, 2007, and had been serving at St. Joseph in Roanoke and St. John in Benson at the time of his death. He also was a chaplain at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

To honor him, members of the “God Squad” — the joint youth group from the Roanoke and Benson parishes — are donating their labor for various projects to the silent auction for bidding.

Monge said the whole goal of the Heckman Memorial Benefit is to give Jennifer Heckman time to breathe and be a mom before she returns to work as a respiratory therapist. He also hopes to help with the medical bills the family is facing.

“The gym at Roanoke-Benson can hold 1,000 people — if we get 1,000 we will do cartwheels,” he said.

Admission to the event is $10 for adults, $5 for students, or $20 per family. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

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