September 13, 2011

The Catuzzi Sisters

Three sisters, Lauren, Vaughn and Dara Catuzzi grew up together in Indiana and Texas.  They loved each other but probably fought like siblings do.  They each married and moved away from each other when they got older.  But they stayed in touch and supported each other still.
Lauren was writing a book that she was really excited about.  She had been a Girl Scout and loved earning Merit Badges.  She decided that grown up women needed to earn Merit Badges too, so she had been writing a book that would allow women to earn Merit Badges.  Lauren loved to try new things.  As an adult, she skated around her neighborhood.  She became a trained Emergency Medical Technician.  She took classes in gardening, cooking, and scuba diving.  She hiked, jogged and kayaked.  She even went skydiving on her birthday once.  Learning these fun things to do prompted her to share the thrill with women everywhere in the form of this book she wanted to write.

She wrote up a sample outline and some detailed chapters and showed them to publishers.  One publisher, Chronicle Books, liked her idea so much that they agreed to publish it when it was finished.  Lauren quit her job as a marketing and advertising agent, and started to write full time so it could be published.  She was so excited.

Unfortunately, she was affected by the events of 9/11 and unable to finish her book.  She was on flight 93, that crashed in Pennsylvania.  Her family is convinced she was part of the heroic effort to divert the plane from the intended target (either the White House or the Capitol) because of her EMT training.

Without prompting, her sisters took the project over.  They met with the publisher, gathered up her papers and picked up the writing where Lauren had left off.  Fortunately, they had her outlines and knew what she wanted it to look like.  When they were finished, they turned the book in to the publisher.  Instead of putting their names on the cover, they put the author as Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas, their sister.  It took a few years of their efforts, but it was published in 2005.  

Additionally, they made sure the proceeds of the book were donated to charities that Lauren loved, like the scholarships for high school senior girls.  They also donated some of the money to build wings onto hospitals dedicated to helping women and women's shelters.
The sisters wrote in the book foreward, "Lauren imagined a book that would boost women's self esteem by helping them achieve their goals, realize their dreams and embrace life's joys and challenges to the fullest.  We all knew how much this book meant to her.  It has been an honor to make it a reality.  Use it to help you do and be your best."   

I like this story because it shows the love and support these sisters have for each other.  When one couldn't finish something important, the other two stepped in and helped out. 
For more information, see Grandcolas, Lauren Catuzzi The Merit Badge Handbook For Grown-up Girls Chronicle Books, San Francisco, California, 2005.

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