ALS "Ranger" Mike Casey


Dear Mr. and Mrs. Blais and Jennifer,

Words can't express my sorrow at finding out that Jon has passed away. What happened to Jon is the saddest thing I've experienced in my life, by far. I knew this day might come, but hoped it never would. I wanted to share with you some of memories of Jon.

I remember Jon racing BMX bikes as a kid. Even though I haven't heard this name uttered in over 20 years, I still remember his nemesis and rival, Rob Linnencourt. Jon would always talk about him because he was the only other kid who could compete with Jon. I remember the ramp that was set up in the court in front of your house. Jon would nearly achieve orbit taking off over that ramp on his bike. Although Jon was involved in many "Highlight Reel" spills going over that ramp, he never showed any fear. I remember building tree forts and hanging out in "The Swamp".

I remember our last year playing Farm League baseball. Jon would meet up with the rest of us after his game. I would ask how he had made out. Sometimes his team had won, sometimes they had lost, but Jon always hit a home run. He definitely averaged more that a home run per game that year.

I don't know whether you ever heard Jon use the term "Milt-to-Wilt", so I'll share with you the origin of that phrase. Jon used to like watching me and Bill Conley play 2-on-2 basketball games on the basketball court in Bill's backyard. Me and Bill would almost always win, and Jon used to laugh watching the way we passed the ball all over the court. Jon coined the phrase "Milt-to-Wilt" to describe our teamwork. Over time, the phrase morphed to mean anything requiring teamwork, hustle, and willingness to do whatever it took to get the job done. Needless to say, I love the term, and hearing Jon say it made me laugh countless times.

I remember how Jon continued to Trick-or-Treat years after the rest of us gave it up. The candy might have been a nice side benefit, but getting a laugh out of the people whose front door he showed up at was mission #1. I would come home and ask my mother if a lot of kids came by. She would say either "yes" or "no" and follow it up with "and Jon came by too". She got a kick out of that.

I have many memories of all the crazy, ridiculous, humor-filled times we spent while working at Four Town Farm. My fondest memory is of the "Black Plastic Team". Every year I can remember, that team consisted of Jon, myself, and my brother Jim. Every August, the inside of the large greenhouse had to be lined with black plastic to block the sunlight from hitting the butternut squash that's stored there until the winter. We used a forklift that had a large wooden bin chained to the front. Jim would drive the forklift, and me and Jon would hop into the wooden bin, and get hoisted to the top of the greenhouse, hammers in tow, where it was our privilege to spend the next 4 hours nailing the black plastic to the existing framework. In August, the temperature inside the greenhouse was a stifling 100 - 110 degrees. Just when tensions were beginning to run high, or the heat was a little too oppressive, or we were about to attempt an unorthodox maneuver, Jon would begin singing the theme song to the "A-Team". It was hilarious. It always cracked us up. It never failed. I remember loading squash with Jon. Jon used to prefer to work on the ground, lifting the 50 pound crates onto the trailer because working on the ground was a better workout. I still remember what Jon wore: cut-off jean shorts, ankle-high work boots, and a white tee shirt, although most of the time he took his tee shirt off and stuffed it into his waistband so he could work on his tan. I remember when Jon was attending Rhode Island College, and would work a couple of mornings a week. Late Autumn mornings were spent cutting cabbage, and busting each other's chops. The crew we worked with were almost too good at that activity, and all of us took turns being the butt of the jokes. I remember we all drank coffee, except Jon: Jon drank hot chocolate. I remember listening to the DJ Rocky Allen on 92 Pro FM. He made us laugh. Rocky Allen was the highlight of the morning.

I remember all those mornings and evenings when Jon would either run or cycle past my house. It didn't matter if it was August and 95 degrees or January and 10 degrees, Jon wouldn't be deterred. He was as reliable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

I remember going to Laguna's on Thayer Street during Friday and Saturday nights in the summer, sitting on the sun-drenched patio drinking beers with Jon.

I remember getting a letter from Jon in 2003. He mentioned how he liked telling his friends in California about stories from his youth. He said no matter how much time goes by, those stories never get old. Jon was right, those stories never do get old. Sometimes I reminisce about those same stories: sometimes they make me smile, sometimes they fill me with a profound sense of sadness, but most importantly, I will always cherish those stories.

I remember the moment I found out that Jon had ALS. My mother called me and our conversation was typical, except that I detected a different tone in her voice that tipped me off that she was about to deliver bad news. After a minute or two, my mother said "I have something to tell you about Jon Blais". My heart immediately jumped into my throat. I thought she was either going to tell me that Jon had died in an accident or that Jon had cancer. She told me neither: she told me that Jon had ALS. I knew what ALS was and what that meant. I was numb and dumbfounded. The person who was in better physical shape than anyone else I had ever known had this disease that had no cure. I have asked myself the same questions I'm sure many others have asked about ALS: unfortunately, it remains a mystery.

I remember following Jon's progress on Ironman's website when he was conquering Kona in 2005. I was refreshing the page frequently. When I refreshed it for the final time, and Jon 's finishing time was displayed on the screen, I laughed. It was the type of laugh you let out when you know something will happen, then it does. I had witnessed Jon training for all those years, so although I was no less amazed by his performance as those who didn't know Jon, I wasn't surprised. There might have been people who thought it would be impossible for someone with ALS to complete the Ironman. However, these people were not privy to the most important component of Jon's Ironman equation: his heart. I truly believe that what Jon pulled off in Kona was one of the greatest feats in athletics history.

I remember the first time I saw Jon after his diagnosis of ALS. It was at the Blazeman 5k. As we approached the Flat River Middle School, the reality of it really hit. The banner for the race was unfurled on the fence in front of the school, the tent was set up for the speakers, and runners were warming up in the street. As we walked towards the school, I became anxious and choked up. I was hoping not to see Jon right away because I knew I'd end up crying. I did get those few minutes to collect my thoughts and emotions. Someone was speaking and I looked to my right, and Jon was about 10 feet away. Jon looked to his left and saw me too. I walked over to Jon and we hugged. Jon began to cry. I felt so bad. I wanted to say something that would make him feel better, but didn't know what I could say. I will never forget that moment. The day was a great success. Jon was about a quarter mile from the finish line encouraging runners to "Finish Strong". I enjoyed listening to Jamie Heywood speak. His spirit was optimistic. He said the War on ALS would be won. Hopefully that day comes soon.

The one thing that blew me away about Jon was that he still laughed....a lot. ALS could not pierce his sense of humor.

I will never forget Jon; his smile; his laugh; his sense of humor and his unparalleled toughness. Although Jon is gone, in life he achieved what very few others ever will: a legacy of greatness that will last for eternity.


Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Team Blazeman Joins Forces With Bo Sox's Curt Schilling
And The ALS Association Of Rhode Island

Crowne Plaza Hotel
Warwick, Rhode Island

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Team Blazeman Joins Forces With Mike Casey & Family
Trot Off Your Turkey 5K
Barrington, Rhode Island


Sunday, October 8th, 2006


Team Blazeman & ALS Warrior Mike Casey Join Forces On The War on ALS

Newport Federal Savings Bank Half Marathon
Middletown, RI

All donations made on behalf of sponsoring me will go to ALS-TDF.

Friday, July 28th, 2006


Team Blazeman & ALS Warrior Mike Casey Join Forces On The War on ALS

The Blessing of the Fleet 10 Mile Road Race
Narragansett, RI

All donations made on behalf of sponsoring me will go to ALS-TDF.

Friday, May 13th, 2006


Flat River Middle School
Coventry, Rhode Island


Blazeman With The Fastest Kid In The Plat...

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