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Buddy Benches unveiled in Denair
Buddy Benches
Over 50 family, friends, school employees and community members gathered in Denair to unveil the Buddy Benches, honoring the lives of Mason Van Winkle and Bennet Inostros (Photo contributed).

Denair Elementary Charter Academy received a pair of new benches honoring the memory of two local boys who tragically passed away in a house fire last year.

The Buddy Benches is a project that has been in the works for a number of months. On May 27, the public was able to see the colorful benches for the very first time, with the names of Mason Van Winkle and Bennet Inostros engraved on them.

Last year, 8-year-old VanWinkle and 3-year-old Inostros died alongside their father, Sergio Inostros Jr., in a fire that broke out in their Fresno Avenue home in Denair. Van Winkle was a second-grade student at Denair Elementary Charter while Inostros was enrolled in preschool.

The unveiling ceremony saw over 50 friends, family, school employees and community members attend to show their support for the boys and their mother, Megan Mulgado, who was also in attendance.

“These benches will forever signify the love of community and the remembrance of my two beautiful boys. I know they would be proud of how they are being honored,” Mulgado said in a statement released through the school district.

The memorial benches were made possible through donations from the school, the Denair Lions Club, the Denair Fire Department and other community members. Each of the organizations also had representatives present at the ceremony.

Mulgado expressed her appreciation for the support local organizations and community members have shown her and her family since the tragic night.

“On behalf of my boys, their dad, my family and myself I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to DECA, Denair Lions, Denair Fire, the community, family friends, and all that have provided support by way of prayers, cards, letters, donations, food, hugs and words of encouragement over this past year,” Mulgado said. “Thank you all for coming today and showing your continued support for me and my family.”