A float decorated with positive symbols — a giant anchor, a rainbow and the words “Live, Love, Laugh” — cruised down Montauk Avenue last Sunday.
This was first time the Courtney Lynn Blakeslee Foundation appeared at the Bayport-Blue Point St. Patrick's Day Parade.
The foundation is dedicated to Blakeslee, a Blue Point resident who was diagnosed with stomach and esophageal when she was 34 years old and seven months pregnant. She lost her battle shortly after, in July 2010, two months after younger son Sloane was born. She had previously given birth to his older brother, Blake.
“You knew she was in the room,” Courtney’s sister, Lindsey Blakeslee Chalifoux said. “She had such an upbeat personality and smile.”
Blakeslee Chalifoux founded the organization to help children who have lost a parent or have one battling a terminal illness.
“It keeps my sister’s memory alive,” she said. “It also keeps my nephews involved in something created for their mom so they can understand and associate with other kids who have also lost a parent.“
The foundation’s logo, an anchor, was a prominent part of the float because of Courtney’s love for the ocean.
“In our minds, we always say she was our anchor,” Blakeslee Chalifoux said.
The float’s “Live, Love, Laugh” banner was inspired by a sign Courtney had hanging in her kitchen.
On May 13, the foundation will also honor Courtney with its sixth annual “True Blue 5K” at Corey Beach in Blue Point.
Blakeslee Chalifoux said the idea for the race came about from a conversation she had with Courtney while she was at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. When Courtney glanced outside the hospital window, she said, “What I would give to run.”
The CLBF strives to create memories for families in need. Most recently, the organization paid for a boy to attend his first Knicks game. It has also funded back-to-school shopping sprees, hotel stays and it also sends children on excursions via Camp Kesem, a California-based program for children impacted by a parent’s cancer that has partnered with Stony Brook University.
“The hardest thing for us is to find families accepting of the support,” Blakeslee Chalifoux said. “It’s all about giving the kids an experience that their parents won’t have to worry about.”
She encourages anyone eligible for support — or who knows of a family with a terminally ill or deceased parent — to contact the foundation. The website is clbfoundation.org.
“The more kids we can support the better,” she said.