Monday, June 4, 2007

Remembering the Blazeman

An obituary written by Jonathan Blaze's mother, Mary Ann.

Jonathan Blais, 35, of Seekonk, Massachusetts, known to many as Blazeman, died Sunday, May 27, 2007 in Fort Myers, Florida of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. A long time triathlete, he moved to San Diego 12 years ago to work with learning disabled and at risk students at the Aseltine School. Jon was diagnosed on May 2, 2005 and in 2 short years he became a powerful voice for ALS, using the sport he loved to help promote awareness and fundraising to find a cure for this horrific disease.

Jonathan was the son of Robert and Mary Ann (Lawson) Blais of Seekonk, brother of Jennifer Murphy, brother-in-law of Jason Murphy and loving uncle of Anna Leah Murphy, all of Ashford, Connecticut. He was the grandson of the late Eugene and Simone Blais and the late James and Catherine Lawson.

Jon graduated from Seekonk High School and Rhode Island College where he majored in special education. Besides his long time participation in triathlons he was an avid mountain climber and hiker and he took his love of the outdoors into his classroom where he inspired many special needs students to reach their potential.

In October 2005, five months after his diagnosis, he became the first ALS patient to race and finish the World Championship Ford Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii while being filmed by NBC Sports. Last year he returned to Hawaii to watch the race in his wheelchair as triathlete Brian Breen raced on Jon's behalf to continue the cause, finishing as Jon did the year before by rolling across the finish line. Jon was again followed by NBC Sports who won an Emmy for their coverage and dedicated this Emmy to Jon at the Sports Emmy Awards on May 3, 2007.
At the Inaugural Ford Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater, Florida the World Triathlon Corporation coveted his Ironman race number 179 for special athletes only. In February 2007, Jon was given the Competitor of the Year Award by Competitor Magazine in San Diego.

As he gave so much in his short life, after his death his brain and spinal cord were donated to The Brain Institute at the University of Maryland for research. His body was cremated and his ashes will be spread in special places around the world.

A celebration of his life will be held later this summer. You can find out more about his extraordinary life by visiting his websites and , where athletes can join Team Blazeman to continue raising awareness and funds for ALS research and support for ALS patients. Donations in his memory can be made to The Jonathan S. Blais(Aka Blazeman) Scholarship Fund % Webster Bank, attn Jan Marshall, 741 Willet Ave., Riverside , RI 02915 or to the Blazeman Foundation, P.O. Box 19292, Boulder, Colorado 80308.

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