Mason Blanchard’s family members gather at the tree during the dedication ceremony prior to the start of the Fairfield-Oak Hills football game on Oct. 25. PROVIDED

Fairfield honored student football manager, who died of cancer, in a special way

“He was so awesome,” said Monica Moore, mother of Mason Blanchard, a football student manager for the Fairfield Indians, died on May 23 from complications caused by cancer. 

“He was just a lovable, caring boy. He wanted nothing but to help others and he always had a smile on his face. He was always happy as he battled his cancer.”

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Before the Oct. 25 Fairfield-Oak Hills football game, the school and Blanchard’s family dedicated a Final Fire Japanese Maple near the student section at the north end zone at Fairfield Alumni Stadium.

Every fall — which was Blanchard’s favorite time of year because it was football season — the leaves will turn a deep red.

The tree will be a lasting reminder for Moore and her family of her son, who always wanted to help others and be a part of something. 

Blanchard, a Georgia Bulldog fan, also wanted to play football, and he pleaded with his mother. Moore was hesitant because he had some educational developmental challenges, but Blanchard’s persistence — and her high comfort level with football head coach Jason Krause — caused her to change her mind. 

Even though those challenges didn’t stop Blanchard from trying out for the team, his cancer diagnosis did. But that didn’t stop him from trying to be involved, Moore said. Blanchard would still be out with the team at practices and game days. 

“This was he was my little golden child,” Moore said. “He would try to overcome his challenges and everything.”

“Mason was a fighter and trooper,” she said. “He didn’t let the chemo and radiation get in his way. He would do whatever he could without actually playing. He was there for the team.”

The tree dedication was “emotional,” said Fairfield Athletic Director Aaron Blankenship.

“It was really important for Jason and I to have something visible from the field to remember him,” Blankenship said. “Fairfield Alumni Stadium was one of Mason’s favorite places.”

He said there is a symbolism of having Blanchard “look over the field” was the main reason it’s planted near the student section.

“As the years go on, the tree will grow and will continue to serve as a memory of Mason’s passion and spirit for many seasons to come,” Blankenship said.

Fairfield schools spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher said the planting “has already had a positive impact on the Fairfield community, as players, students, staff and residents are stopping by to pay their respects.”

She said Blanchard’s “kind spirit and drive to fight on inspired many of his classmates.”

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