Seymour Christmas celebration honors teen who died of brain cancer

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SEYMOUR-- The town of Seymour held its annual Christmas celebration Saturday,  and the holiday spirit was strong-- "Poeta Strong."

This year's festivities had a special meaning, as some of the celebrations were dedicated to Nina Poeta-- the courageous 17 year old cheerleader who lost her battle to cancer in November.

There were carolers walking through Downtown Seymour singing and collecting donations of the Poeta family..

"It was a beautiful day, very special." said Elizabeth Pisano, a Poeta family friend.

17 year old Nina Poeta lost her fight to a rare form a brain cancer early in November after battling the disease for about a year. Her fight and fundraising efforts garnered attention around the state -- as well as from thousands of people from across the country.

Christmas is right around the corner, but it won't be the same for the Poeta family.

"I struggle everyday with it. It's not getting any easier, especially this time of the year," said John Poeta, Nina Poeta's father.

Saturday marked the town of Seymour's annual Christmas celebration, which included a horse drawn carriage that gave people rides through the downtown area, the banner on the carriage read  "Every time a bell rings an angel gets her wings"

The All-American General Store in Seymour sold hundreds of "angel wings"-- paper angels with customizable message written to Nina.

The angels were placed in a basket and presented to Nina's family  inside the Strand Theater at the conclusion of the annual showing of the film, "It's a Wonderful Life"

"It's a wonderful event every year, but this year it just meant so much to so many people. The community really pulled together through her whole illness," said Kim Dulka, owner of All-American Valley General Store.

The "Nina Strong" phrase has turned into a rallying cry for the town.

It's also part of sweatshirts and other items being sold in order to raise money to support the Poeta family.

"Today out in the cold, people were standing out in the street selling them-- this town is incredible, "said David Poeta, Nina's Poeta's father.

More than $100,000 has been raised through a Go-Fund me page, "Poeta Strong" merchandise, and other fundraisers, but the family will still need to raise money.

"I'm afraid that now the medical bills will start piling in. By the time they clear one insurance and go to the next phase and all that," said Elizabeth Pisano.

The family says they've appreciated all the help along the way.

"Everyone is so amazing. Every time we feel like we're losing control, there's always someone doing something wonderful and nice," said Dorie Poeta, Nina Poeta's mother.

  • The Nina Poeta Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 11 Klarides Village, Seymour, CT 06483
  • The Cure Starts Now (for DIPG Research), 10280 Chester Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45215
  • Make-a-Wish Foundation, 126 Monroe Tpke., Trumbull, CT 06611.

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