On Thursday May 10th, Town Officials and community leaders joined together with the Cianci family to dedicate the first rose bush of 65 to be planted, in honor of 5 year old Lucas Cianci. The dedication ceremony kicked off a month long project to plant 65 roses throughout the township for Cystic Fibrosis awareness. Town officials have enlisted the help of community organizations who have volunteered to plant 65 Rose bushes by the months end.
Supervisor Ed Wehrheim led the ceremony, Thursday afternoon, accompanied by Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, Town Councilman Tom Lohmann, Town Clerk and acting Nesconset Chamber President Vincent Puleo, Superintendent of Highways Robert Murphy and Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varricchio. Department leaders (Parks, Youth Bureau, Town Attorney & Town Clerk) and administration staff were front in center as the first rose bush was planted for Lucas, who’s battle with cystic fibrosis has inspired the community.
“We are grateful for the local community groups including our chambers and civics who are here with us today who have committed to helping us plant 65 rose bushes by the months end. I would like to thank a very special guest here with us today; Lucas Cianci. Lucas, as you get older, just remember who else has genetic mutations... Superheroes! And we are honored to dedicate the first rose bush to our Superhero.” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
Lucas’ mother Emily Cianci held back tears holding onto her daughter Zoe and grandmother, Debbi Haupert a C.F. awareness advocate as Lucas was presented with a backpack filled with superhero toys and a kindle fire to keep him occupied while undergoing his routine treatments.
Local Civic and Chamber of Commerce leaders in attendance included members of the Kings Park Chamber, Nesconset Civic and the Nesconset Chamber, the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce and The Community Association of greater St. James. Karen Aldrich of the Smithtown Youth Bureau has offered to include the 65 Roses project among Community Service opportunities for students. Local leaders including Rob Cartelli of the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, Tony Tanzi of the Kings Park Chamber, Vincent Puleo of the Nesconset Chamber and Kerry Maher-Weisse, Bill Capurso & Mario Mattera of the Community association of greater St. James all have made commitments to planting rose bushes at various plaza’s and parks in their respective Hamlets. Bob Souto, Marie Gruick volunteered the assistance of the Nesconset Civic Association to help with the planting.
With every rose bush planted, the town will post photos with the number of roses planted to date along with important health information on Cystic Fibrosis. Most people do not learn that they are a carrier (over 10 million in the US) until a child has been diagnosed. By encouraging pre-conceptual screening in all women considering pregnancy and educating the public, we stand a fighting chance at eradicating Cystic Fibrosis once and for all.
Residents who wish to get involved, can post a photo of their newly planted rose bush on instagram or facebook with the hashtag #65RosesSmithtown or send in a picture via email at firstname.lastname@example.org now through May 31st.
DID YOU KNOW:
The story behind 65 Roses dates back to 1965 when a 4-year-old boy heard his Mother, Mary G. Weiss calling every community group she could reach, to advocate for Cystic Fibrosis research. Weiss had suddenly learned that her three children were diagnosed with the disease. After hearing the name over and over, the boy pronounced his diagnosis to his mother as "65 Roses." Today, “65 Roses” has become an endearing symbol of the many young children this disease effects.