One year ago, Erin Willett was performing “Hope’s Alive” at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) PurpleStride New York City in Prospect Park. This year, like everyone else, Willett celebrated Virtual PurpleStride New York City 2020 on social media, while staying safe at home.
But 2020 was also different in a more momentous way for Willett.
This year, she was joined by her daughter, Charlie, now three months old.
“I know we’re in a crazy time of separation and isolation … through all of it, we’re all still connected, we’re all still finding our ways to be connected and I think that’s what PanCAN does for a lot of us who’ve lost our loved ones. It connects us back to them.”
As Willett experienced her first Mother’s Day this year, she talked about her dad, for whom her daughter is named.
“Everybody called him Chuck, except my grandma – she called him Charlie. When he passed away, I got ‘Charlie’ tattooed on my arm for him, and for my grandma, who passed away shortly after he did,” Willett said. “We’ve kept his memory alive with a new life.”
In addition to a new daughter, Willett and her fiancé have a new business – a pizzeria, which they opened in October. During the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve continued to operate with modified hours, small staff, curbside pickup and contact-free delivery.
And on the menu under “Specialty Pies?” “The Charlie” with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers and onions!
We are grateful for Willett’s commitment to the pancreatic cancer cause and PanCAN.
In addition to her PurpleStride participation and performances, Willett recorded “Hope’s Alive”, written by Elizabeth Russo and Tova Litvin (who were also touched by the disease), and she is donating all download proceeds to PanCAN.
Willett and her family are already planning their attendance at PurpleStride 2021 and bringing it full circle with Charlie there.
“Hopefully, she’ll be old enough to create memories!” Willett said.