I talked the other day to an impressive young man,15-year-old Nicholas Celenza. Nick and his siblings have sold more than a thousand pairs of pink shoelaces in memory of their mother, Elaine Brown Celenza, who died February 24, 2012, after a long, inspirational struggle with breast cancer.
I met Nick, his brother, 18-year-old Anthony, and their sister, 23-year-old Erica, in their Haddonfield, New Jersey, home as they all sat around a table covered in pink shoelaces. They were pairing them up so they could be sold. They were quite a trio this past week, when I saw them laboring together to work through their loss and live as their mother would want. Dad, Anthony, Jr., is in awe of them.
The laces idea was Nick’s. Dad, who is also Captain of of the Joseph A. Ferko String Band, said do it and off it went. The proceeds will benefit the Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure. The Celenza’s story is being shown on PHl17 in the 10pm Newscast tonight and on NBC10’s weekend morning news.
When you talk to people who knew Elaine, from the Brown family to the Celenzas to her friends, they say many images will always come to mind. The smile, the willingness to help, and her loving her family are probably the most frequent. Many will also remember the extraordinarily long line of mourners at her viewing. Erica, Anthony and Nicholas were everything to admire as they patiently and warmly greeted all who came to express their sorrow in February. As sorrowful as it was, it also felt right to talk and be somewhat upbeat. The line took on the personality of Elaine.
At the Celenza home this week, Anthony told me the story of how Elaine would sneak out and drive somebody to the doctor. Elaine was not supposed to be driving at that point, but somebody needed help and she did it. He talks of how tough she was in fighting the illness. Elaine apparently saw a dire prognosis as something to be proven wrong. Anthony says she was always the peacemaker of the family, briniging the family together. She’s still doing it.
Still pairing those laces, Nicholas, Anthony III and Erica want to raise awareness about preventing breast cancer and about early detection. They want to raise money for research. All this so that other families will not have to go through what they have gone through. The next step can begin with a pair of pink shoelaces. Check out KomenPhiladelphia.org/LaceUp.