West Suburban school builds free library memorial for two former students

WESTMONT, Ill. -- A west suburban elementary school is helping keep the memory of two former students alive.

Students at Manning Elementary School raised money by selling little holly-gram greetings. Thanks to their fundraising and other donations, the school created an outdoor space with a bench and two little free libraries, all in memory of two former students.

1st grader Max Ledwon reads on the bench that is a memorial to his sister Lindsey.

"Lindsey loved it here, so having this be here in her honor makes us feel good," said Stacey Ledown, Lindsey's mother.

Lindsey lost her life to brain cancer in 2008 when she was just five years old.

“She was just very strong little girl..also sweet..combination of sweet little girl but very strong and very determined,” said Brian Ledwon.

The little free libraries that book end the bench are there in memory of another former student, Emily Wheeler, who also died of brain cancer just shy of her 16th birthday.

Linsdey Ledwon, 5 and Emily Wheeler, 15

"Oh it just warms my heart..just such a great thing they’re doing here," said Emily's mom, Mary Wheeler.

The school held a ceremony today to dedicate this new reading area to Lindsey and Emily.

Students chose books to put in the little free libraries where anyone can now stop by. You bring a book and take a book, or just take one and bring it back.

Students at the school came together and raised money for part of the memorial for the two girls that some of them didn't even know.

"Just hearing about how they passed away..it’s just really sad..and you want to remember that and honor that,” said 4th grader Riyah Varghese.

Ben Ledwon, Lindsey's brother, says that it's great the everyone is involved and cares so much.

Emily's family also donated to help bring the little free libraries to the school, to pay it forward as Emily would have wanted.

"She always believed in paying it forward..was really involved in school activities…and just helping anyone," said Emil's dad, Steve Wheeler. "When she passed away we thought we want to continue doing things in her memory that are helping others..and Emily would really be smiling right now at all the things we’re doing, especially this.”

The Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy hawk was also at today’s dedication to celebrate the memory of these two girls and the new reading area that will serve the entire community.

WGN learned that Chicago Blackhawks charities made a donation to the school Friday so it can do even more inspiring projects.