Sunday, March 14, 2010

Great article on Tommy Blake, Jr.

Today was apparently Blake day in the Buffalo News' Viewpoints section. Political writer Bob McCarthy started his column talking about how my uncle Tom Blake (along with the late Richard Keane) started the St. Patrick's Day luncheon at the Buffalo Irish Center in 1972.

Tom Blake's son Rich wrote the following article on another page of the section. Buffalo is such a small city, I'll bet neither McCarthy nor Blake knew they would both would be writing about father and son family members on the same day, in the same paper, in the same section of the paper. Rich Blake wrote about his brother Tommy, Jr. Tommy was born deaf and with CP. He has walked with the help of crutches his whole life. He has accomplished so much, only some of which was written about in the story. One thing that I always noticed about Tommy was the great enthusiasm and respect he has for life. He always seems to have a great awareness of his surroundings, never complains about his role in life, and always asks good questions.

In the story, Rich Blake mentions about how Tommy insisted on going to a "regular" school when it wasn't the trend back then. When he earned his diploma from West Seneca West High School, he received a standing ovation from his fellow classmates and their parents. A few years back, he earned national recognition for saving the life of a 73 year old man in Daytona Beach, Florida:

In the early 1990s, Tommy and my mom moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., where incredibly he continued to be feted by reporters. In 2003, every TV station in Volusia County covered the story of the amazing deaf man with cerebral palsy who saved a diabetic senior citizen from drowning in the swimming pool at the Pickwick Village retirement community. Tommy had held the 73- year-old unconscious man’s head above water for 20 minutes, clinging with his one free arm to the side of the built-in pool, crying out for help until someone finally arrived. Even Jeb Bush, then governor of Florida, sent Tommy a medal recognizing his heroism.

With all the negative stories about the economy and corruption going on in the state, finally a positive story around St. Patrick's Day...

A brother’s journey to Ireland, and to hearing : Sunday Viewpoints : The Buffalo News

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