By Julie Montanaro
August 13, 2014
Friends are rallying around the parents of a murdered son.
The boy's own grandmother is accused of stabbing him to death.
The six year old's murder stunned neighbors, classmates and teammates and friends are now planning an event for children to help them - and the family - cope.
"They took a liking to each other and my son loved Mason something fierce," Robyn Vandewater said.
Robyn Vandewater's son Brody was one of Mason Rhinehart's closest friends. They would have started second grade together next week.
"As a mother to my son, I had to speak to him about this tragedy. I think it's a conversation that no mother should have to have with their child," Vandewater said.
Mason Rhinehart was stabbed to death in the bathroom of his Killearn Lakes home last week. Deputies arrested his grandmother, Martha White, and charged her with his murder.
Friends are inviting children who knew Mason to come to Tekesta Park this weekend - to express themselves with paint.
Painting with a Twist is donating canvases for "Painting in the Park" so children can share their feelings and condolences.
"Paint pictures and make cards and use glitter and just express their love through art for Mason," Vandewater said.
So far donations to a Gofundme page for Mason Rhinehart's family have topped $22,000. Friends are trying to raise $50,000 to help the family move into a new house.
"We don't want the donations to stop. It's not just his week. It's not a month. This is going to be the rest of their lives they're going through this," friend Jennifer Doxsee said.
Doxsee - a longtime friend of Mason's parents - recruited
Nuberri Frozen Yogurt to help. Its three Tallahassee locations will donate 25% of Saturday's sales to Mason's family.
"Instead of asking why, why, why all the time, I tried to do something positive," Doxsee said.
Painting in the Park will be Saturday, August 16th from ten to noon at Tekesta Park in Killearn Lakes. Friends there are also planning to release balloons with messages on them - and send them skyward.
"My son thinks heaven is above us, so if he can actually write a message and send it on a balloon up to Mason he would have a visual connection with that," Vandewater said.