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May 31, 2021

Holmdel PBA Local #239 Dedicates Bench to Vienna Savino

By: Shanna O'Mara

An emotional bench dedication ceremony took place last month at Cross Farm Park in Holmdel. Holmdel PBA Local #239 funded the cost of a memorial bench dedicated to Vienna Savino, a Holmdel resident who died at the age of 2 of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). The event coincided with the fourth annual Vienna’s Day of International SUDC Awareness, during which Team Vienna representatives raise awareness of SUDC and funds to support research.

Vienna’s mom, Dr. Denise Wunderler, began the event by talking about her daughter and paying tribute to her with the song “I Think About You (Songs for Vienna).” Vienna’s older sister then addressed the crowd, thanking her friends for their support during difficult times. 

Holmdel Mayor Gregory Buontempo read the proclamation designating May 15, 2021 as Vienna Carly Savino Day of International SUDC Awareness.

“We are so thankful for the friendship, love, and support from the Holmdel community,” Wunderler said on behalf of her and her husband, Dr. Mike Savino. “It has been three and a half years since Vienna died. For others, it may seem like a long time ago, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For my family and I, it’s every single day. It’s when we put out two cereal bowls when there should be three. It’s when we see two car seats in our car when there should be three. It’s a life-long sentence that Mike and I are trying to navigate the best we can.”

The bench is adorned with a plaque that reads, “Vienna Carly Savino (V3). 1/19/2015-11/12/2017. We miss you so much. Love- Mommy, Daddy, V1, V2.” Below the bench is a cement square featuring Vienna’s handprint between those of her two siblings.

“We want people to always remember our sweet Vienna and never forget her or her tragic story,” Wunderler said. “We hope that her story will drive SUDC forward so eventually her cause of death will be uncovered, and one day, be preventable. Then other families will be spared our devastating tragedy.”