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Elon employee’s holiday display honors sibling lost to cancer

Jimmy Curiazza hopes his home decor this season will motivate people to contribute to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Jimmy Curiazza and his wife, Tracy, designed and constructed a large Santa, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman at their Gibsonville, N.C., home.


An Elon University staff member has built a synchronized light and music display at his home not far from campus with the goal of raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in memory of a brother who died from childhood leukemia during the 1967 holiday season.

Jimmy Curiazza and his wife Tracy designed and constructed a large Santa, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman head to “sing along” to Yuletide carols reverberating from a sound system at 50 Bent Tree Court in Gibsonville, N.C., a neighborhood cul de sac off Cook Road near Beth Schmidt Park.

The university’s plumbing supervisor hopes that anyone who visits it, if so moved, will consider making a contribution to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. His goal is to generate more than $5,000 for the cancer research and patient resource charity.

Curiazza developed his fundraising idea after successfully designing a Halloween display earlier this fall that included two 18-foot skulls and a pumpkin synched to sounds and music. “I thought that if people liked the idea, maybe now we could do something for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” he said.

The Society is a cause that’s near to his family’s heart. Jimmy Curiazza can recall only foggy memories of his older brother, Dean, a “happy go lucky” child in their large North Jersey family. When Dean Curiazza died at the age of 4, his passing left a permanent mark on the spirit of subsequent holiday seasons, which Jimmy Curiazza, the youngest of six children, still sees to this day.

Always wanting to assist the charity with his wife, Jimmy Curiazza’s project has the support of the nonprofit organization’s statewide branch, which created a basic web page through which friends, family and supporters can send donations.

“We’re always honored when people in the community want to include LLS in an activity,” said Emily Blust, the senior special events director for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s North Carolina chapter. “This is really a very humble way to do this in memory of his brother, and it says a lot about his character that all these years later, he still wants to do his part so other families don’t have to lose their loved ones to blood cancers and lymphoma.”

Blust said that traditional fundraisers include golf tournaments, special community events, dances, a swim-a-thon, fashion shows, bake sales – even a regatta on Lake Norman. “This is the first time we’ve had anything like this,” she said of the light display.

According the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, one person dies every 10 minutes from a blood cancer. Diagnoses happen even faster, with one person receiving news of their illnesses every four minutes.

“Dean was only one of the thousands of children, and adults, battling this disease,” Jimmy and Tracy Curiazza write in an open letter on the website page created by the nonprofit organization. “My image of Deans smiling face continues to guide me forward in my efforts to help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.”

To contribute to Curiazza’s project, visit: http://nce.lls.llsevent.org/holidaylights

Eric Townsend,
12/19/2011 8:34 AM