LOWER PROVIDENCE — Those who’ve enjoyed being recognized as a “pizzaioli” of the day at Collegeville Italian Bakery Pizzeria Napoletana are aware how much of an honor the designation is.
Strictly speaking, a pizzaiolo is a person who makes pizzas in a pizzeria, but at the popular eatery the honoree is simply asked to pose for a photo sliding a pizza into the grand oven that produces hundreds of pizzas every month, and will also see his or her name light up the marquee out front on Ridge Pike.
The honor recently went to 3-year-old Hailey Mientus, who beat childhood cancer, as it was announced on the bakery’s marquee.
“It was such an honor to meet you, Hailey,” co-owner Steve Carcarey noted on the bakery’s Facebook page. “You are such a strong, brave and smart little girl. Don’t ever stop smiling. We love you! Wishing you continued health and so much happiness.”
Steve and his wife Patrizia met Hailey through Tim Kerns, owner of Triple Crown Academy in Limerick, where Hailey’s brothers engage in sports training.
“Tim contacted us about Hailey and we just made it her day at the bakery,” Carcarey said.
Kerns said he tries to honor an individual or organization every year during the Christmas season.
“In the past I’ve done something for Wounded Warriors and Jane Baron, who ran a dance academy and was dying of cancer, and the money raised went to her children’s education.”
Last year, Kerns held a benefit for the family of William Bender, who was killed in a hit and run car accident in July, 2018.
He grew “heartsick” when he learned of Hailey’s battle, Kerns recalled.
“Hailey’s brothers are in our baseball program and their dad was saying how tough everything was because Hailey had gone through chemo a bunch of times and she was only three years old and they didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” Kerns said. “This fall they had gotten some good news that the cancer had been eliminated, at least visibly. So I decided we would do a dodge ball night and (raise donations) for the Daily Bread Community Food Pantry and ask kids from my baseball program or speed and agility program to write a Christmas card to Hailey. I was very specific, that the kids had to make the card. We had about 35 or 40 of our kids come that night. Hailey did not attend because her mom was a little iffy about (exposing) her immune system, but she got dozens of cards. We even got the Eagles cheerleaders to sign a card for her. It was a great night and the dad was real thankful and they brought the cards home to her. I was just trying to make their Christmas a little better.”
Kerns had also reached out to Carcarey about Hailey’s battle with cancer.
“I’ve been friends with Steve forever from coaching at Kennedy Kenrick and Widener College,” Kerns said. “I’ve owned Triple Crown since 1996 and Steve has always sent his teams to me for training.”
The day before Carcarey had posted a message to Hailey on the bakery’s marquee, “You beat cancer.”
“The family went there for lunch and were so thrilled by what he had done and that they made Hailey the pizzaiolo of the day,” Kerns explained.
Carcarey said he was so impressed by the little girl he wanted to help anyway he could.
“I think we live in such a negative world, where if you see something from our perspective, these kids aren’t recognized and they should be,” he said. “We have to do our best and bring them in to let them know we want to spread the word on what they’ve done.”
Source: Thanks https://www.timesherald.com/news/collegeville-bakery-honors-girl-s-triumph-over-cancer/article_244b03a8-2830-11ea-a330-0b5e2f3a8e3d.html