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HUDSON -- Mitchell Cellars died April 9, 2016 from an overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl.
Mr. Cellars had recently celebrated his 24th and last birthday he would ever share with sisters and fellow triplets, Chelsea and Kristen.
The 2010 Hudson High School graduate was just beginning to realize his dream of being a personal chef, having graduated from the Culinary Arts and Catering College Tech Prep Program at Stow-Munroe Falls High School and earning an associate's degree in culinary science from Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky.
And while Mr. Cellars' dream was cut short, his family is hoping a newly formed scholarship bearing his name will help other students in the culinary fields pursue their dreams, while taking a bit of Mitchell with them.
"In Mitchell's memory the Mitchell Kyle Cellars Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a candidate who has a strong passion for cooking but more importantly to one who displays a genuine kindness towards others -- just like our Mitchell," according to one of the scholarship parameters. "Mitchell will always be remembered for his kind and gentle spirit - he never let heroin steal his loving and compassionate soul. Regardless of Mitchell's circumstances- he always maintained a sense of dignity, respect and kindness towards others."
The family wants to support another promising young adult pursuing a degree in the culinary field, according to Mr. Cellars' aunt, Judy Montecalvo, a family spokesperson.
"It is our hope that others will carry Mitchell with them as they move forward in their lives," Montecalvo said. "We hope that Mitchell will be with them when they look out into the world with compassion and kindness, when they act with determination to overcome struggles and pursue their dreams, and when they are brave enough to contemplate all the things in life that still remain unknown."
The family also wants to tell Mr. Cellars' story and open people's minds and hearts to those who are still sick and suffering from the disease of addiction, she added.
"We need to speak up about what is happening to his generation and stop the silence," Montecalvo said. "We will continue to tell his story and help spread awareness about the dangers of heroin use. It is our hope that with this scholarship we can help another promising young life achieve their college pursuits and ensure that no one forgets what an amazing young man our Mitchell was."
Mr. Cellars, his sisters and older brother, Michael, were all part of Hudson's "13 year club," Montecalvo said.
"I believe it is so important for others to see that despite having personal struggles, Mitchell's goals were still attainable," she said. "He graduated from college and was able to pursue a career in his field that he was so passionate about."
Chelsea and Kristen came up with the idea for the scholarship.
"They knew that I was familiar with these type of scholarships because of my work as their high school guidance counselor so they asked me to help," Montecalvo said. "The scholarship is for $1,000 and will be awarded each year in the effort to keep Mitchell's memory alive."
The family will donate money each year for the scholarship.
"Barb, Mitchell's mom, is one of seven children and we and our children and the Cellars family are all donating the money each year," Montecalvo said. "Our plan is to give out one $1,000 scholarship every year starting with this year -- although that could possibly increase to more."
Applications are available on the Hudson High School's website and emailed to the Culinary Arts and Catering teachers at Stow-Munroe Falls High School where Mr. Cellars was also a student during his last two years of high school.
"Applicants must be a Hudson High School graduate or culinary arts graduating senior planning to pursue a major in the culinary field," Montecalvo said. "Additional consideration will be given to applicants who best describe their passion for cooking as well as their passion for spreading kindness to others - a trait that Mitchell displayed always."
For people would like to make a donation to the scholarship, email Judy Montecalvo at MontecaJ@hudson.edu.