Monday, November 25, 2013

Memorial T-Shirt | Chris "CJ" Saraceno
We can be heroes, just for one day...


Chris "CJ" Saraceno

Designed by Austin Taylor-Carpenter
NCLUSIVE, Inc., Los Angeles CA


FUND TO HONOR CRASH VICTIM


BY LARAINE WESCHLER


REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

A
 WATERTOWN
 mile-wide smile and a pair of shades dripping rainbow colors encapsulate a local man’s larger-than-life personality for friends trying to keep his memory alive.

Watertown High School graduate Christopher J. “CJ” Saraceno, 24, died in a bus accident in Los Angeles in September. Although he moved away from Watertown when he graduated in 2007, Saraceno’s death shocked friends back home.

“He was the epitome of cool. The word doesn’t even do him justice. He was so much bigger than Water­town, Connecticut,” said Rachael Bronson, who has been friends with Saraceno since kindergarten.

She said he had an infec­tious
 personality and was al­ways looking to make things bigger and better.

Bronson and 2007 class of­ficers Amber Wood, Mark Merrolle and Justin Chere set up the CJ Saraceno Schol­arship Fund at Webster Bank and have already collected more than $10,000 from the leftovers from the class’s cof­fers and donations from classmates.

“We just wanted to set something up in CJ’s memo­ry because he was so amaz­ing,” Bronson said. “Every­body was totally on board with it. It’s turned into some­thing much more than I
 thought it would be.” 

The scholarship will go to a Watertown High School sen­ior similar to Saraceno, with a minimum 3.0 grade point average who plays varsity sports, is involved in other extracurricular activities, and preferably has a special interest in visual or perform­ing arts, Bronson said. Sara­ceno’s parents, Chris Sara­ceno and Rita Saraceno, will choose the winner.

Anyone who donates more than $25 to the fund can bring their deposit slip to the Wedding Embassy in Oakville and receive a free screen-printed T-shirt em­blazoned with CJ Saraceno’s face. The back of the shirt says “Chase Joy.”

CJ Saraceno’s co-worker from Los Angeles, Austin Taylor-Carpenter, designed the image from a photo of Saraceno at a wedding, ac­cording to CJ Saraceno’s fa­ther. Of the first run of 100 shirts, Saraceno said 30 are already ordered by people in California, where Saraceno worked as a brand content strategist for NCLUSIVE, Inc. “People are growing crazy for them,” Chris Sara­ceno said.

Saraceno’s classmates plan to collect donations and hand out the shirts at the Thanks­giving weekend hockey game between Watertown Youth Hockey coaches and Boston Bruin’s Alumni team. The game is Nov. 30 at 3 p.m. at the Taft School’s Odden Are­na.

Chris Saraceno said he was a hockey coach and his son was a player for more than 10 years. CJ Saraceno played for Watertown High School and later Tufts University’s club team. Chris Saraceno said Watertown Youth Hock­ey President Larry Erickson is dedicating the game in CJ
 Saraceno’s memory and the coaches are wearing jerseys emblazoned with Saraceno’s name and number.

Chris Saraceno said more than 1,000 people came to his son’s wake and the mass at St. Mary Magdalen was standing room only.

“It was just an outpouring of people that came and rec­ognized our family,” Chris Saraceno said.

Chris Saraceno said his son was a sincere, intelligent, en­dearing individual who was friends with a diverse group
 of people.

“He didn’t define people,” Chris Saraceno said. “He would take you to task for things that were near and dear to his heart.”

Chris Saraceno said he son’s co-workers in Califor­nia were very fond of him.

“I just sat there and melted when they talked about my son. The world was short­changed, trust me,” Chris
 Saraceno said.

Contact Laraine Weschler at 
lweschler@rep-am.com.



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