'Best Grandma Ever': Coronavirus Closures Don't Stop Family From Holding 100th Birthday Party For Pittsburgh Woman At Nursing Home
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It is a rarity to make it to 100 years old.
Lysette Kamzelski is the Administrator at the Vincentian Personal Care Home in the North Hills.
She and her staff worked to help Eleanor Orlowski's family celebrate her big day on Wednesday in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
No visitors are allowed at the center, so the family had to stay outside.
Orlowski sat by an open window and saw 17 family members who gathered in an open courtyard.
There was bright pink tape to remind them how far they needed to stay for social distancing and how close they were allowed to get to Orlowski's window.
All family members had to wear masks, and they didn't mind because it's not every day you can celebrate a century of birthdays.
Mary Ann Labriola is one of Eleanor's siblings.
"Eleanor was there when I was born, and she's my godmother," says Labriola.
Family members brought balloons and homemade posters. They sang and presented the lucky lady 100 birthday cards from friends and family.
Will Gialanella is one of her five grandchildren.
"She's great, great personality, great sense of humor. Loves everything, loves everybody. She's the best, best grandma ever," Gialanella said.
When Orlowski was born in Lawrenceville back in 1920, there were 48 states and Woodrow Wilson was president.
A century later, a celebration occurred about 10 miles from where Orlowski was born.
"We were still able to follow the governor's mandate, wear our masks, keep our social distance," said Elle Giananella. "So I think it worked out well, and God bless all of them in there. They did a wonderful job. They knew how special it was."
While they were able to wave and blow kisses, it's not the same as giving her a hug.
"It's been tough," said Will Gialanella. "I thought about it quite a few times today, it stinks. I know it stinks more for her, not being able to be out here with us. So that's where it hits me more. But yeah, I wish I could give her a hug."
Labriola noticed the distance, too.
"She's in there singing and blowing kisses. I'm just sorry we can't be by her side," Labriola said.
"It's terrible. I want to go in there and hug her," said Eleanor's daughter, Elle. "I haven't been able to visit her in six weeks, going on eight weeks."
But Labriola says this party is just the warm-up for her sister, who lived on her own until she was 98.
She sold Avon products for more than 50 years until she was 90 years old.
"This is just the dry run for the big celebration that we will have," says Mary Ann.
Just how rare is it to make it to 100 years old? According to the 2010 US Census, approximately 54,000 Americans reached triple digits -- 1 of 309 million U.S. residents.
That is less than 0.02 percent of all the people in this country.
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