The Christopher Grusha Memorial Bell Choir from St. Stephen School performed last month for residents at Autumn Hills Care Center. The choir, which was founded by Christopher's parents as a memorial for their son, is directed by his mother, Nancy Grusha.
Christopher Grusha was born with a rare heart defect and liver disease known as Alagille Syndrome. When he was just 2 years old, he began what would become a long series of heart and other surgeries, including one surgery in 1995 that left him bedridden for five months. Physically weakened, Christopher had to relearn how to walk with a walker.
The bell choir was created in 2000 and was originally comprised of fellow students from Christopher's classroom. For several years, the choir performed together at different occasions at the school and at St. Stephen Church. The choir also made appearances for area groups and organizations. Over time, the choir expanded as students graduated from the School at the end of eighth grade.
The Christopher Grusha Memorial Bell Choir performed last month for residents at Autumn Hills Care Center. The bell choir was formed in memory of Christopher, a St. Stephen student, who was born with a rare heart defect and liver disease and who died in 1999 at the age of 12. The choir is directed by Christopher’s mother, Nancy Grusha.
Varying from year to year and depending on availability, the bell choir has sometimes been joined by students in fifth grade, but it is primarily made up of students in grades six through eight.
This year, a special addition to the choir included Christopher's sister, Allison Grusha. Allison, a fourth-grade student at St. Stephen School, rings along with other bell choir members.
Christopher and Allison's parents, Nancy and Gary Grusha of Mineral Ridge, were honored as Community Stars, an annual event sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle and the American Red Cross Trumbull and Mercer County Chapters.
In addition to performing at Autumn Hills, the choir also has performed at the grand opening ceremony of Edison Place Apartments.