The Freeport community is reeling following the deaths of two young people within the last week, and local groups and residents have mobilized to support the friends and families impacted by the tragedies.

Freeport Community Services hosted a “grief space” on Friday, partnering with staff from Hospice of Southern Maine to provide “support and connection to our community” as they mourn the loss of Theo Ferrara and Madison Cunningham. 

The body of Ferrara, a 14-year-old freshman at Freeport High School, was discovered in the waters of Maquoit Bay Tuesday morning, ending an extensive, four-day search for the missing teen.

Madison Cunningham, 21, of Freeport, died in a car crash in Fort Meyers, Florida, on Sept. 24. Her mother said she was spunky, “full of life.” Lisa Cunningham photo

Cunningham, a 2019 graduate of Freeport High, was killed in a car accident over the weekend, Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, wrote in a community newsletter.

“In the aftermath of when tragedy strikes a community like ours, so many people have that innate desire to help and try to improve things for people that are hurting, for people we care about,” said Sarah Lundin, executive director of Freeport Community Services. 

There were a handful of people who attended and took advantage of the one-on-one support. That alone made the event worthwhile, Lundin, said. The bereavement services team also brought two therapy dogs and attendees were invited to paint rocks, which will be placed in the community garden space.


Daughtry encouraged anyone struggling, especially students, to reach out to the Maine branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, The Center for Grieving Children or school counseling services.

“Looking forward, everyone will experience a range of emotions from grief and sadness to anxiety and unease,” she said. 

Ferrara had been missing since Thursday evening when he was last seen walking north along Flying Point Road near his home. Search crews had been scouring the coastline and the wooded areas and fields along the road since Friday morning.

“We’re all human, we all feel it,” Freeport Police Chief Nate Goodman said. “It’s devastating for all of us. This is not the outcome we wanted.”

On Wednesday, RSU 5 will host a workshop with NAMI Maine to help parents learn how to support their child through a traumatic loss, the district said on social media. 

Support for a community after a loss is to allow the time and opportunity to grieve and to actively support the needs of those people most affected by the loss,” district officials wrote. 

Theo Ferrara Contributed photo

Community members have established a meal train for the Cunningham family. 

“We want to help alleviate their stress during this time and help in any way that we can,” said Ashley Arris, who started the meal train. “Madison is a much loved member of the community and we want to honor her in helping her family right now,” Arris wrote on the meal train site. 

They also collected donations for the family. As of Friday evening, more than $4,000 had been donated.

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