Four years after his death from ALS, the legacy of Jon Blais continues through the Blazeman Foundation.
Four years later, emotions are still raw for Mary Ann and Bob Blais as they talk about losing their son Jon to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
It took Mary Ann and Bob years to return to the Fort Myers condo where Jonathan died in 2007.
But it also comforts the part-time Southwest Florida residents that their son’s heroic completion of the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii not only has inspired others but has raised awareness of a disease that deteriorates its victims’ bodies in two to three years before killing them.
Mary Ann and Bob have put together a nonprofit foundation — Blazeman Foundation for ALS — that has raised more than $1 million. That money has gone to research at Wake Forest, Northwestern and Maryland universities. Jon Blais also had his brain, spinal column and nerve tissue harvested for research.
“We’re small in size but large in heart,” Bob Blais said. “My son’s goals were to find a cure. We’re closer than when he passed away. We also have a better understanding of the disease.”
Mary Ann adds, “But we still have a ways to go.”
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