Just over a month since two children were killed in a devastating drunk driving crash, help and support for the family is pouring in from an unlikely source.
Five-year-old Tatiana Cruz and 8-year-old Lorenzo Cruz were killed when the car they were riding in was struck from behind by a man accused of driving drunk. The children’s mother, Gina Schroder, father Michael Cruz and 12-year-old brother Alejandro survived the crash.
“It's like you hear the words being said but it doesn't really register with you,” said Michele Palmieri, the children's great aunt.
Now hope and healing are coming from someone who knows what it's like to lose a child.
“One of the greatest lessons I've learned through my suffering and what brings meaning to the suffering is doing something for someone else,” said Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was one of the 20 children killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.
When she heard about the car crash, Scarlett offered to help by holding a fundraiser in Jesse’s name. All proceeds go to the Cruz-Schroder Memorial Fund set up by Tatiana and Lorenzo’s family.
“Being in service to others heals your pain. And I was so happy to be able to do something for someone else and it's so small compared to the pain that they're feeling, but it's something and in doing something for them I’m also helping my own healing,” Scarlett said.
Michele reached out to Scarlett after Jesse’s death last year. Now Scarlett believes things have come full circle.
“I know that Jesse is with those kids. That's my personal belief, and I know he would love that it's Christmas time, it's a season of giving, and it’s so beautiful to be able to reach out and help another family,” she said.
Michele said she's touched by the gesture.
“It's like, here it is so close to the anniversary, and she's reaching out and doing something for somebody else,” she said.
The dinner will be held Wednesday night at Il Monticello in Meriden. Tickets are $35 per person, which includes dinner. Those hoping to attend can buy seats at the door or register online by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scarlett will be among the speakers.