Story, video: Local family is moved by support for granddaughter killed in Oklahoma tornado

Jun. 18, 2013
Mike and Leslie Benson attended a girls softball tournament that served as a fundraiser for their daughter's family. The couple's granddaughter, Sydney Angle was killed in a May 20 tornado in Moore, Okla. / Aileen Andrews/The Reporter
Sydney Angle

• Send monetary donations to: The Dan & Nicole Angle Fund, c/o Hometown Bank, 245 N. Peters Ave., Fond du Lac, WI 54935.
• An online donation system has been set up through PayPal. To donate, use PayPal to send a gift to with a note “Angle Family Fund.”


OAKFIELD — As Mike and Leslie Benson watched a Saturday afternoon softball game in Oakfield, they couldn’t help being reminded of their granddaughter.

Not a day goes by they don’t think of Sydney Angle, a bright-eyed 9-year old who loved to swing a bat.

“I distinctly remember last year when she cut her knee sliding into home base,” Leslie said. “I asked her if it hurt bad and if she cried. She immediately replied: ‘Oh granny, softball girls don’t cry.’”

“We are tough,” Sydney told her grandmother.

These memories and others were shared at the recent Oakfield Softball Bring it For Sydney Tournament held as a benefit for the Dan and Nicole Angle family. On May 20, the Angles lost Sydney and their home in devastating tornado that struck Moore, Okla.

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She was killed as the twister roared through Plaza Towers Elementary School.

“Sydney was so full of life, it is hard to put into words,” Leslie said. “She was so beautiful with her dazzling eyes, infectious smile and outgoing personality.”

Outpouring of support

Dan Angle grew up in Oakfield and Nicole is from Fond du Lac.

The Bensons, who are Nicole Angle’s parents, say that since that tragic day the outpouring of support from around the country has held the family up.

Proceeds from the softball tourney, sponsored by local businesses and volunteers, will help the family rebuild a part of their lives. Last week a benefit brat fry and bake sale sponsored by Adashun Jones Real Estate, took place in Fond du Lac.

“All of this has been tremendous and mind-blowing,” Leslie said.

The Angles are currently renting a house in Norman Okla., about nine miles south of Moore. Leslie said at this point her daughter and family haven’t decided where they will live in the future.

Dan is employed at Quad/Graphics and Nicole is a nurse. Each of them were given two months off from work. The Angles’ 17-year old son, Jory, works at a theater that was hit by the tornado. Leslie said it reopened after a week and the teen was given some paid time off. He still has to get a car, his grandmother said.

“Everything is still overwhelming right now,” Leslie said.

After the tornado hit, the Bensons drove through the night to Oklahoma and stayed for a week.

Family and friends helped the Angles go through the rubble of their home and dig out materials that could be sold for salvage. They found Nicole’s missing wedding ring buried under four feet of debris.

“The hardest thing was coming home,” Leslie said.

Hearts are broken

The loss of Sydney Marie has left everyone heartbroken, Leslie said. Sydney was always smiling, always acting silly. She loved playing softball, skateboarding and hanging out with friends.

“Sydney loved music and while riding in the car she had her head phones on, singing away, not worrying what anybody else thought — especially not worrying about if her siblings thought she was in tune or not,” Leslie said.

Her last visit with Sydney and the Angle family took place in March. Leslie said it was a birthday gift to herself.

“All the kids and I went to the Oklahoma City Myriad Botanical Gardens and had a great time,” she recalled. “The next day Sydney, Casey Jo and myself went to the zoo, which was packed. Their favorite exhibit was the snake house.”

She cherishes fond memories such as how she taught the girls to play card games like Kings on the Corners and Rummy 500.

“We spent endless hours playing Rummy 500 and Sydney would always ask, ‘Just one more game grammy? Please?’ I distinctly remember her sweet smile and Oklahoma accent saying, ‘grammy I love this game, I am so addicted to it.’ That memory melts my heart,” Leslie said.

Acts of kindness

Casey Jo, 11, will play in a July softball tournament in Florida and the Bensons plan to be there, cheering her on from the stands.

“It amazes us that so many softball teams and families have adopted Sydney as their team angel. It touches all our hearts,” Leslie said. “And thank you to the University of Oklahoma Sooners who adopted Casey Jo as their team bat girl for the final playoffs. This has been so helpful to the family as a whole.”

All the acts of kindness are a testimony to the people who have given so much, Leslie said.

“Nicole and Dan have expressed how grateful they are that so many friends, family and strangers have reached out to help them in such a difficult time,” she said.

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