By Katina Caraganis
SHIRLEY — After losing his father to a stroke and suffering one at 42, Frank Mastrangelo, of Shirley, has been committed to a more healthy lifestyle while running in the Boston Marathon and Falmouth Road Race to help bring the disease to light.
He has always run in various road races to raise money for stroke research and for all stroke survivors. This year, he has a much more personal reason to compete in the 7-mile Falmouth Road Race scheduled for Sunday: fellow Shirley resident Ken Blanchette.
Blanchette, sports editor of the Nashoba Publishing weeklies, was admitted to Beth Israel Hospital in May after suffering a series of strokes shortly after arriving for work.
Finding himself unable to speak or write, he drove himself to Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer without alerting his coworkers.
After he was examined by doctors, it was determined he had suffered a stroke and had two blood clots in an artery in his brain. He was sent to Beth Israel.
He has since returned to the home he shares with his wife, Kathy.
Mastrangelo said the news of Blanchette’s stroke really hit home for him. He suffered his own stroke a year to the day after his father suffered his first of two, and he had his children in the car with him at the time.
“I feel for the guy because I know exactly what he is going through,” Mastrangelo said Monday of Blanchette. “I’m sure he felt hopeless and didn’t know what was going on and what to do.”
Blanchette is a fixture in the community, Mastrangelo said, and he felt that he needed to do something.
“I told him I would be honored to run on his behalf, and he agreed,” Mastrangelo said. “I’ve never done that before for anyone except my dad.”
Mastrangelo said he considers himself one of the lucky stroke survivors and feels this is the least he can do.
“I can walk and talk, and some people can’t do that after a stroke,” he said. “This hit home for me. I’m glad he has so much support behind him.”
When reached at his home Monday afternoon, Blanchette said his recovery has been slow but steady, and he was glad to hear Mastrangelo is running in his honor.
“I was pretty happy when he came by and told me,” he said. “It was a nice thing of him to do for me. It’s a long wait, and it’s a long way back.
“We still have a long way to go,” he added. “I just want to thank him for doing this. I appreciate it.”