Tye Blanton Foundation looks forward

Dec 14, 2012

Tye Blanton would have turned five next summer. Everyone could think about the what-ifs until their heart hurts. Yet, it was the “what-if” that Tye’s mom and family had that has made the difference.  Their “what if we could give back?” was the first step to what is now known as the Tye Blanton Foundation.

What is truly an amazing feat is the ability to take something such as sorrow and loss and actually harvest joy from it.  Four years ago after the loss of her husband, Trooper Shawn Blanton, and followed four months later by the loss of her infant son, Tye, Michaela Blanton Lowe with family and friends by her side created the Tye Blanton Foundation (TBF).   The outpouring of love and support Michaela and her family received from the Western North Carolina community, and especially from the Mission Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), gave Lowe and her TBF Board all the incentive they needed.

Four years later, it is difficult to say how many lives TBF has affected. The mission of the Foundation is to help the premature infants at Mission Hospital’s NICU by helping their families.  Hundreds of TBF bags containing anything from toiletries and gift cards to premie clothing and receiving blankets have been provided to NICU families over the past four years.

Additionally, numerous swings, bouncy seats and crib toys have been donated directly to Mission’s NICU.   Each Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas, the Tye Blanton Foundation board members arrive at Mission Hospital to don the current NICU “residents” and their parents with gifts, which in the past have included TBF attire, premie clothing, receiving blankets and lunch boxes.  TBF always makes sure the NICU staff is taken care of as well with special meals and treats.

Over the past four years, the Tye Blanton Foundation has partnered with the American Red Cross to sponsor blood drives in memory of Trooper Shawn Blanton and Tye. Hosted by Canton’s Central United Methodist Church, Dec.16 is the mark of the 12th blood drive sponsored by the foundation. With each donation yielding a pint of blood, and each blood drive averaging 80 pints of blood that is equivalent to nearly three thousand lives saved by the Tye Blanton Foundation in four years.

The Tye Blanton Foundation has formed an extraordinary relationship with the Western North Carolina division of the March of Dimes.  Each year since the inception of TBF, the foundation has hosted Haywood County’s March for Babies, assisted in the Buncombe County March of Dimes Chefs Gals, and assisted and participated in the March of Dimes Masquerade Ball numerous other March of Dimes events.  With the March for Babies walks alone, TBF has assisted in raising nearly one hundred thousand dollars.

Next year, as the community nears Tye’s fifth birthday, TBF is looking forward to more exciting ventures.  In January, TBF will be hosting its first cornhole tournament “Cocoa and Cornhole,” with date and location to be announced.  February will bring the Mission Hospital Radio-A-Thon, in which TBF board members work booths and help answer phones.  Blood drive dates have already been set for April 14 and June 16.  Preparations are already underway for the 2013 Haywood March for Babies.  Visit the foundation on Facebook or by email at tyeblantonfoundation@yahoo.com to participate in the “Cocoa and Cornhole” tournament in January. For further information, call Lara Feinberg at 926-8389.