National News

Oregon City mom turns loss of son into a way to give opportunities to kids

Posted October 30, 2017 1:01 p.m. EDT

— American flags wave as cars fly by Milepost 2 on Oregon Route 213, the Fallen Hero Memorial Highway dedicated to Oregon City's own Tyrone Woods.

Woods made the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.

"Tyrone was the Navy SEAL who perished at Benghazi and gave his life so 30 people could walk out of there," Woods mother, Cheryl Croft Bennett, explained. "I can't bring my brave boy back. He's not coming back."

The loss of her son sent Bennett, a former high school teacher, reeling for a time until she decided to turn the tragedy into an opportunity to help others.

"It took me two years after his loss to find my footing and say, "I need to do something for the greater good," she said.

Bennett had the vision to honor her son with the Tyrone Woods Wrestling Foundation.

"Our purpose is to financially assist these youth wrestlers and programs so these kids can have the same experience that Tyrone did," she explained. "All of the skills and the values and the characteristics and the traits and the life lessons. They are going to be exposed. Learn how to win, how to lose, learn not to give up, learn to keep a positive attitude. We want to get them on the mat so they have that opportunity."

Woods was a class of 1989 Oregon City Pioneer who wore his wrestling shoes to high school graduation.

"Tyrone was fifth in state and went on to become a Navy SEAL for 20 years," Bennet said. "He was stellar. My son was courageous. I call him my lion. He was my lion."

Each year the foundation hands out the Tyrone S. Woods Memorial Trophy and a $1,000 scholarship at the state meet.

Current Western Oregon student and Culver High graduate Mack Little was the second recipient.

"It was a huge honor to be able to receive that," Little said. "Being able to honor her son is really, really a cool thing."

The Woods Scholarship has made a change in Little's life, and big changes are what the foundation aims to do, providing financial assistance for those that can't afford to pay to play.

"That word, 'change,' means our purpose is to give the opportunities to those kids to make a change in their life for wrestlers, for the girls and the boys," former OCHS wrestling coach and foundation vice president Roger Rolen said.

"Be the change. I think it's a great message, I think it's a very powerful message," Bennet added.