Benefit raises money for 5 children being raised by grandparents after mother’s unexpected heart attack

Photo by Sue Suchyta Tom Wencel (left) and his wife Debbie (fifth from left), are raising their daughter’s five children, Paige (second from left), 5; Nina, 4 months; Jenna, 4; Cayden, 22 months; and Cara Johnson, 9. Jaime Wencel died unexpectedly of a heart attack July 11.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Tom Wencel (left) and his wife Debbie (fifth from left), are raising their daughter’s five children, Paige (second from left), 5; Nina, 4 months; Jenna, 4; Cayden, 22 months; and Cara Johnson, 9. Jaime Wencel died unexpectedly of a heart attack July 11.

 

By SUE SUCHYTA
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – A vendor and craft show held Aug. 19 at St. Sebastian Catholic Church helped raise more than $1,500 for the children of the late Jaime Wencel, 36, following her unexpected July 11 death from a heart attack.

The children — Cara, 9; Paige, 5; Jenna, 4; Cayden, 22 months; and Nina, 4 months — are being raised by their maternal grandparents, Tom and Debbie Wencel of Dearborn Heights, following their mother’s fatal heart attack.

The fundraiser also collected diapers and baby wipes for the family in exchange for tickets to win raffle prizes.

“Everyone was very generous,” event organizer Heather Suchyta said. “It was heartwarming to see all the people come out to support a family in need.”

Tom Wencel said that while they are still very emotional about losing their daughter, the overwhelming support from the community has provided an emotional counter-balance.

“The outreach of kindness from our community, family, friends, church and even people we don’t know have come through for us in a way we can’t even describe,” he said. “Not a day goes by when we don’t get a card in the mail, or someone dropping off diapers, formula, baby wipes, food, clothes, car seats, high chairs, toys, donations toward school tuition, even money.”

The older children attend St. Sebastian School, which donated the use of the hall for the fundraiser.

Wencel, who is running for Dearborn Heights City Council, said their sudden responsibility is demanding, but he hopes they raise the children in a way that would have made their late daughter proud.

“There is no way we could have done what we have without our family, friends and church,” he said. “It truly takes a village to raise a child.”

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at  sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)