Hometown Hero I Bentely Neal

At the tender age of 9, Bentely Neal is our latest Hometown Hero -- due in part to his activism to help veterans.
Published: Jul. 7, 2023 at 7:19 PM EDT
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MASON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - No one is more deserving as a Hometown Hero than Bentely Neal, who has found his passion at the tender age of 9.

Bentely, known by many as Bent, raises money for the Mason County Veterans Memorial project.

Jodie Camp, Bentely’s aunt, said he has raised more than $4,000 for a memorial that will begin construction in the town of Mason this fall.

“He makes hard-tack candy with his mom, and they sell it and they sell that at the different events,” Camp said. “It started out as he was going to raise a certain amount of money and his dad was going to match it. After that, it just continued to go on.”

At a young age, Bentely was diagnosed with speech apraxia. While he is nonverbal, he loves to share his excitement for law enforcement, firefighters, veterans and just helping people in general.

Mason County Sheriff Corey Miller is Bentely’s buddy.

“He is a special little fellow. He supports veterans and law enforcement, EMS, and fire like no one you have ever seen, and he has got a special place in all of our hearts here in Mason County. He gets out and works hard,” Miller said.

Bentely wears hats and he collects patches from all over, but his friend Gary Fields said there is a side to Bentely people know less.

“But there is one hat that a lot of people don’t know about,” Fields said. “Where he lives, there are some older people, and they are starting to struggle with walking. I saw him holding the hand of an older gentleman as he was walking back to his house.”

Fields said Bentely truly has a selfless character.

“When I saw that on there, it was emotional, as well as appreciative of what he is doing at such a young age,” Fields said.

Bentely’s community met at the local VFW in Mason, lifting him up and thanking the community for supporting Mason County’s Hometown Hero.

“He could not do what he does without the support of the community, so we want to thank everyone in the community for rallying around Bent,” Camp said.