Facing his own Battle, Grandson Still Honors his ‘Big Papa’

February 23, 2018

 

by David S. Morin

When you are 15 there are many things on your mind – school, dating, and friends. Then add on top of that being diagnosed with a brain tumor and facing chemotherapy. The last thing on your mind would be raising funds for a charitable organization. But the love and respect that Hudson resident Tyler Blanchette and his older brother had for their grandfather “Big Papa,” as he was affectionately called, spurred Tyler to, once again, hold a hot chocolate stand to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

The family lost “Big Papa” to Alzheimer’s years ago, which inspired the boys to begin raising the funds. The family’s home on Ferry Street was a popular stop for many on Saturday afternoon. Family members and friends gathered with Tyler and set up the annual hot chocolate stand. Roger, Tyler’s dad, said that in August Tyler was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor was found to be cancerous and successfully removed. His son went through several weeks of radiation, and today the treatment continues.

The family wasn’t sure if the stand would even take place this year due to the illness that Tyler is facing but it did not deter him at all, and, due to the special relationship he had with his grandfather, he moved forward with the help of many to continue the fundraising tradition.

The support was evident as family and friends lined the street holding signs announcing the hot chocolate stand to draw in donors. Many of the vehicles passing the home sounded their horns and waved as a sign of appreciation for Tyler’s work. Many lined up and enjoyed a warm cocoa, spending time talking with the family, neighbors and friends.

The event is held each year in February around Valentine’s Day in honor of the grandfather’s birthday. This year’s weather was perfect for the event. In past years, the family has had to cut short the time the stand was open due to cold or poor weather conditions.

Tyler’s family is very proud of their son as he has overcome many challenges over the last year and still come forward to raise funds for the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter. Since the first opening of the stand nine years ago, the Blanchettes have raised more than $25,000 for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.