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'Our warrior' Procession honors Kila boy who succumbed to rare condition

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | January 13, 2021 4:15 PM

Maverick Bench has come home.

The 9-year-old Kila boy who courageously battled a rare condition called aplastic anemia, died early Monday at a hospital in Denver.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Flathead Valley welcomed the Bench family as they returned home, carrying the cremated remains of their loved one.

Maverick's dad, Logan Bench, who along with his wife Colleen have chronicled their son's medical battle on Facebook, posted on Tuesday: "Today we picked up our Maverick, our Warrior, in a way we had never thought we would. Our little man, now ashes inside of a plain black box."

A processional departed Glacier Park International Airport after the family arrived Wednesday, and throngs of supporters lined U.S. 2 as they made their way back to their home in Kila.

Officers from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office led the group, which included family members, law enforcement officers and fire department members. The ALERT and Two Bear Air helicopters flew overhead.

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino said he was contacted to help provide safe passage for the Bench family.

“The West Valley Fire Department contacted us and they had spoken with the family,” Heino said. “One of Maverick’s wishes when he came home was to ride in a fire truck.

Maverick's four brothers, with their brother beside them in spirit, rode in the fire truck.

“Right now, we’re just here to support the family and their wants and needs at this time,” Heino added.

According to a previous Daily Inter Lake story, Maverick Bench received two bone marrow transplants and a number of other treatments during his eight months at the hospital while showing incredible courage and determination during his illness. He passed away shortly after 5 a.m. Monday, surrounded by his family.

“Maverick was the strongest kid I have ever met — the strongest person I have ever met. He died on three separate occasions and fought back. To lose him now, after all of that, is just tough,” his father, Logan Bench, said Monday.

Maverick, described as a strong student, talented wrestler and great outdoor enthusiast, loved his four brothers more than anything else, his father said. When it looked like Maverick was improving enough that the doctors thought he might be discharged around Christmas time, Maverick refused to open his presents until his brothers could be with him.

Maverick showed an ability to draw others together and it was apparent with the formation of Maverick’s Army, a Facebook support group that had grown to include more than 25,000 followers.

Daily updates kept his supporters up to date with his treatments, struggles and accomplishments. Condolences from thousands around the world began flooding in Monday morning.