Sisters remember mom by inviting public to holiday celebration where she used to work


From left to right: Nikki Brand, Ali Ball and Meredith Reilly remember their mother at last year's "Light Your Life with Love" celebration. (Photo provided).

By Laurie Gordon
NEWTON - Several years after their mom died, three sisters have made a tradition of holding a celebration among the community that they found profoundly helpful during their mother's last days. A "Light Your Life with Love" celebration will be held in honor of Donna Lentini Scheibner at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, at R & T Nautilus, 190 Halsey Road in Newton. The Fredon Township Elementary School Choir will perform.
Refreshments are courtesy of Hayek's Market and music will be provided by Party King Entertainment.
Niki Brand, 40, of Fredon, Ali Ball 30, of Colorado, and Meredith Reilly, 38, of Fredon, lost their mom on Sept. 28, 2014 to Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease (PVOD), a rare lung disease. A resident of Stillwater, Scheibner was just 59.
Searching for a way to ease their broken hearts, and realizing how much their mother loved Christmas, the sisters decided to hold a Christmas tree lighting at R & T Nautilus where their mother was a personal trainer for 20 years.
“This event means more to our family than anyone will ever know," Brand said.
That first year they had a DJ, food, Santa and Mrs. Claus. But there was also pouring rain.
Call it a Christmas miracle, but despite the weather, car after car filed into the parking lot and hundreds came to give the family hugs, spread holiday joy, and talk about Scheibner. Just before they lit the tree, the children of the Fredon School choir sang Silent Night.
“It’s so beautiful and powerful: it’s our favorite part of the lighting and we continue to do it every year,” Brand said.
Scheibner's grandchildren press the button to light the tree as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is played.
Now held annually, it’s rained, it’s been freezing, it’s been warm, and the sisters are still waiting for some snow.
Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food or cleaning items as a donation for Sussex County families in need. Donations by those not attending the event may be brought to Benny's Bodega, or R&T Nautilus.