Johnny Blais was an adventurous spirit, avid athlete, and an unforgettable teacher in the halls of Aseltine who became known, fondly, as “The Blazeman”.
Johnny’s connection with students stemmed beyond the classroom, and he believed that an active lifestyle could help students develop coping skills and support growth. Through a recreation class, Johnny facilitated student nature hikes, swimming, rock climbing, and other active outlets that brought “mind over matter”, in the classroom and in the real world, to the forefront. In his element on these outings, he taught students they had everything they need to succeed within themselves.
Perhaps most importantly, Johnny served as an example to students that nothing is impossible.
After being diagnosed with ALS in 2005, Johnny completed the grueling Ironman challenge – at one point throwing himself down a mountain to make it to the finish line in time. Johnny never believed there was anything he couldn’t accomplish in the face of ALS or not, and becoming an Ironman was a testament to his confidence and bravery.
Johnny may no longer be with us, but his spirit and impact continues to live in the halls of Aseltine in more ways than one.
In honor of Johnny, his family created and continues to support “The Blazeman Foundation”, which targets Aseltine’s areas of need especially close to Johnny’s heart, including Aseltine students’ recreational sports league, “Mariposa Ice Cream Day”, and more.
The Blazeman Foundation recently provided some much-needed new softball uniforms for Aseltine’s 2019-20 team – one of the countless gifts they have given students over the years. To celebrate Johnny, Aseltine had a sweet tribute to “The Blazeman” inscribed on the back of each jersey, and all of our students were curious to learn more about who Johnny was.
As veteran staff spoke about Johnny and his Ironman triumph, we saw inspiration flash in the eyes of each student. Even in his absence, Johnny continues to leave a lasting impression on our students.
This season when the Aseltine Eagles take the field, Johnny will be on the backs of each one of them, rooting them on not only on the field, but in life.