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Blazeman Warriors keeps growing! We are proud to have you representing us on the battlefields!
Fabrice Le Det
Petra Le Det
Ryan Van Praet
Caryn De Filippo
As you may or may not know May is the anniversary of Jon's diagnosis (May 2nd 2005) and his passing (May 27th 2007). It has been a difficult year for his family-but out of everything bad there is good. We have met some incredible people throughout this journey-for that we are grateful. And like Jon, who would borrow from other people, I shall borrow from him. I can't tell you all how many times he said to me "I would give this all up for my day job back at Aseltine." Jon's story was incredible-doing Ironman with this horrific disease called ALS. What few know was the inner strength he had dealing with this disease. I was constantly in awe of his patience and his sense of humor-and that great laugh of his!
The Blais family has lost a great son, brother, uncle and friend and we are determined to continue the foundation he started. Thanks to many wonderful people, we are succeeding. I think he would be happy with our progress and thrilled with the Blazeman Warriors-especially when they roll. That is when I hear that great laugh he had!
So Warriors, on May 27th at 8:35PM, look to the sky and yell "FREEDOM"!! for Jon and all the other fallen warrior poets that have passed. This season make a promise to Jon and roll across every finish line you cross-spreading awareness and educating the world about this disease.
strength & honor, Mary Ann "Blazemom" Blais
Blazeman Foundation for ALS
Warrior of the Month-Michael Mathers
By Paul Fahey
Michael Mathers is another Blazeman Warrior who truly embodies the spirit of the cause.
Mathers, a 59 year-old engineer, fondly recalls how he spent his time as a child on the ice hockey rink and in the pool. He can still remember the first time he broke a minute for the hundred yard freestyle, at age 14, and the last time, at age 53! Michael said that his "fast-twitch muscles are all gone, so now I train to go far, not fast." And he is certainly no stranger to racing far distances.
He is a six-time Ironman finisher. He was among four other Blazeman Warriors to race in last month's Boston Marathon, almost thirty years since he began running marathons. Michael jokingly said that a year after his first marathon in 1982 was when he lost his razor and hasn't shaved since. In fact, his 25 year-old daughter has never seen his chin!
At the left is one of Michael's favorite pictures, taken shortly before the Blazeman 5K in Coventry, RI in April 2006. A minute earlier, while he was pinning a race number on his shirt, Bob Blais stuck a "#179 War on ALS sticker" on his chest!
Michael had met Jon Blais a few weeks earlier while racing Ironman Arizona and Jon was busy spectating-cheering-helping at one of the water stops. "Jon recognized me based on a verbal description from his parents Bob and Mary Ann, whom I met at the Bristol 10K a few weeks earlier. 'Are you Walt Whitman from Rhode Island?', he said as I walked by. It was late in the race and I was just putting in junk mileage at that time, so we chatted for a couple of minutes. Jon smiled easily, his face was bright, and he clearly enjoyed helping others like me in the race. That encounter put wings on my feet for a while." Michael then commented, "Of course Jon would rather have been doing the race. But even if you can't race, you can still show up and encourage those who are doing it to achieve their goals. The whole family is made of the same stuff. It's a privilege to roll across the finish line at an Ironman, a marathon, or a 5K in the memory of what Jon and his family are trying to achieve."
Michael, we are proud to have you on our team and grateful for your dedication to the cause. You train and race with integrity and passion, and in strength & honor.
Update From The Battlefields
By Mary Ann Blais
On Monday, April 21st, Blazeman Warriors Nancy Nicholas, Jennifer McGuiggan and Mike Mathers competed in the Boston Marathon along with Paul Serafini who is a sponsor of the BMF (he is the president of Sweatwipes). They all finished and rolled across the finish line in true Blazeman fashion.
From L-R: Mathers, Nicholas, McGuiggan, Serafini
Less than a week later, on Saturday, April 26th the Blazeman Foundation was a silver sponsor for the Scott Carlson 5k-an ALS fundraiser that benefits the local ALS chapter in Rhode Island. Scott Carlson was a triathlete who was a training partner of Karen Smyers before his death from ALS in 2001. He has been part of what Jon had called the big 4 who succumbed to ALS-Jon became the 5th triathlete to die from this disease in May of 2007. Karen was among the several hundred to turn out for this annual event.
And, Congratulations to Big Matty Reed for qualifying for the Olympics! He told us that Jon will be in his thoughts as he crosses the finish line this summer in China.
The WaronALS Forum is up and Running!
Please check out the most recent addition to the WarOnALS website - the Forum page (click here). This is where all of our warriors and supporters can go to:
· meet other warriors
· find other participants at events
· share fundraising ideas
· and much more!
To get started, you will need to 'Sign In' on the upper right part of the page. Then to obtain a Username, click on "Apply for Membership". Create a username and password, agree to the term of service and submit the form. Your membership application will be sent to the Administrator for approval. Once approved you are welcome to contribute to ongoing discussions or start a new one.
Just a few photos submitted by your teammates from
recent events. Keep 'em coming!
A strong showing of Blazeman Warriors at St. Anthony's Triathlon. From L-R: Brian Duffy, Mike Duffy, ClarkArchibald, Diego Avalos, Phil Gormley, and Kiam Gormley. Everyone here, and Ken Fanelli, log rolled across the finish line. (Brian was most likely the youngest competitor of the day-he's 14 and doesn't turn 15 until October!)
Ken Fanelli proudly raced with number 179 at St. Anthony's
Dr. Bob Laird rolling across the finish at Lavaman in Hawaii for Jon and ALS. "Dr. Bob" was the medical director at Kona when Jon did the 2005 race-they became good friends and he is very special to the Blais Family. Jon gave Dr. Bob a little flag that he carried that read; Mr. B is going to Kona. Today, that flag has a special spot on Dr. Bob's desk.
One last note... We would like to thank Karen Duffy for all of her work getting this newsletter off the ground. It has been greatly appreciated by the Blais family and we wish her much success as a warrior in this War. Thank you Karen!
On May 2, 2005, twenty-year Multi-Sport veteran Jon Blais a.k.a. "Blazeman" at age 33 was diagnosed with the fatal motor neuron disease ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Blazeman dubbed himself the "ALS Warrior Poet" and brought his battle to the big island of Hawaii on October 15th that year, where he became the first person with ALS to complete the Ironman World Championships. It was his last race. In 2006, a number of athletes, inspired by Jon's 2005 efforts, rolled across the finish line in Hawaii in honor of Jon and his battle against ALS. In 2007, the Blazeman Foundation for ALS expanded Team Blazeman, comprised of "Blazeman Warriors" who have committed to raising awareness and funding a search for a cure for ALS..."So Others May Live."
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