CHELSEA — Friends, family, and the Fulton Houses community will come together on Saturday to celebrate the life and legacy of Brandon Romero, the young Fulton resident who tragically died saving his cousin from a violent ex-boyfriend in December.
"A Life Celebration For Brandon Edward Romero," will feature songs, stories, speeches, and even a performance by Romero's old dance troupe, starting at 5 p.m. in the Fulton Houses auditorium at 119 Ninth Ave.
"We're providing the food as a sort of thank you to all the people who helped us during this time," said Noemi Ortiz-Malave, Romero's cousin and one of the organizers of the event.
"We want to celebrate Brandon and the community that loved him."
Romero, 20, was shot and killed on Dec. 12, 2011 when he accompanied his cousin, Jamie Cruz, to retrieve belongings from her ex-boyfriend, Kenneth Waldron, 29, at Waldron's apartment in the Fulton Houses at 413 W. 16th St.
Relatives and cops said Waldron pulled out a gun and Romero was shot trying to stop him from getting to his cousin, allowing Cruz time to escape safely. Waldron shot and killed himself immediately afterward.
The Cinco de Mayo banquet is the beginning of a sustained push on behalf of Romero's family to raise money and awareness for Safe Horizons, a domestic violence shelter.
The event is free, but the family is asking the expected 200 attendees to make a donation to the shelter in Romero's name. Romero himself, a fan of physical fitness, was a regular volunteer at World Changes Church's youth programs.
The family also wants to inspire youth from the Fulton Houses community to follow Romero's example and get involved with local nonprofits.
"We want to get more of the community involved and open the eyes to young generations of Fulton and Chelsea to volunteer in the shelters for domestic violence," said Ortiz-Malave
"We'll be doing a lot of that in the summer."
The food at the banquet will be a collection of the half-Irish, half-Puerto Rican Romero's favorites, including, rice and beans, sausage and peppers, and Irish soda bread. Several nearby restaurants and grocery stores also donated food for the event.
"We're so grateful to them, because they know that Brandon was generally a good person, he always looked out for anyone in his family, anyone in the street," said Ortiz-Malave.
"He was a very rare young man that we had in our lives, I’m proud to say I experienced a lifetime of memories with him."