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In his father’s absence, Derek Blanchette did an excellent job conducting Nashoba Publishing’s 9th annual Sports Night on the evening of May 24. More than 300 students, coaches and family members attended the event at the Devens Common Center.

Very notably missing was Sports Editor Ken Blanchette. As most of you know, Ken suffered a series of strokes on May 11 brought about by blood clots in his brain. After spending nearly a week in Intensive Care at Beth Israel, he was transferred to Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, 29 Northwest Blvd., Nashua, N.H. 03063. He is expected to remain there till June 7 or so and then transfer to another facility where his various therapies will continue.

Ken isn’t a man who likes to be placed in the spotlight. Being the master of ceremonies for Sports Night is the most difficult and most enjoyable thing he does all year.

He begins work on it before Christmas, though he never really stops thinking about it — such is his dedication to recognizing the outstanding achievements of our local high-school athletes.

Holding Sports Night without Ken wasn’t easy nor did it seem right. But he’d want nothing less.

The great impact Ken has on our local high-school sports community was evident when Derek reached out for help the day of his father’s attack: Sports Night was less than two weeks away. The response from leaders in the high school sports community was immediate; they couldn’t do enough to help.

As each took the podium to stand in for Ken, some reading the speeches he’d written, some reading their own, the positive effect of the work to which Ken has dedicated himself was mentioned time and again.

Though his body was not in evidence, Ken’s heart was surely there. It could be seen in the promise that shone from all the young faces, a reflection of the faith the night’s founder has in all of them.

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