I’ve been wrestling with my emotions the last couple of days thinking about how I could ever possibly write a story that conveys how much Blake Driskell meant to the Addison community and beyond following and before his unfortunate death.
Thanks to the community, I didn’t have to.
A hashtag #BlakeStrong started it all.
A Facebook page, Blake’s Army, has 4,300 likes in five days. A gofundme account that was created seven days ago has raised $44,795 for medical expenses for the Driskell family.
Candlelight vigils filled the streets, walks at night in his honor, fire departments in North Corning, Addison, Monterey, Bath, Corning and Painted Post, signs and posters from people all over, red ribbons and a kickball game Monday in Blake’s honor.
Merchandise like shirts and ribbons you can purchase in Blake’s honor that are red, his favorite color.
To sit back and watch the community of Addison and surrounding areas in support of Blake has been heartwarming to witness.
I think in times of tragedy you really get to see how close a community is and Addison is a small, tight knit, community that really banded together for one of their own.
The outpouring of support from the community speaks to what the Driskell’s mom Kim, dad Corey, sister Kerrigan and Blake, mean to the community.
#BlakeStrong is a movement that has and will continue to reach far and wide so that Blake’s legacy can be shared for generations to come.
Blake was always the nicest kid to me. I consider Kim and Corey good friends of mine, so I would always try and get action photos of Blake as he was playing basketball or soccer. I would talk to Kim and Corey about Blake on the basketball court, where he was very good. He was also a very talented soccer player.
In retrospect, I’m thankful that I had the privilege to watch and capture moments of Blake playing the sports he loved.
As a sports writer you have to be as unbiased as possible so your writing is clear and concise, but I always found myself checking and seeing how Blake performed in games especially as a sophomore.
I found myself rooting for him to do well in part because of how great his family has always been to me, and I probably wouldn’t be alone in saying how helpful, nice and caring the whole family is.
I owe Kim so much for helping me out early on in my sports writing career at The Leader. She always would call me to report scores and help me out when I knew what I wanted to ask, but wasn’t sure on how to do it. When Addison head girls soccer coach Kay Peters yelled at me up and down my first year, Kim was always there to make sure I was ok.
I knew Corey before I worked at The Leader as he worked with my friend at a local gamestop. It was always nice to see him when buying my favorite games and have conversations. As the varsity girls basketball coach at Addison, he has been nothing but great.
It was fun to hang out by the Driskell’s during a basketball game when Blake was playing. Watching Kim and Corey try to contain (as much as they could) their dismay for referees’ questionable calls that went against Blake.
On the court and the field, to me, Blake always seemed like he played cool and collected even in the biggest moments. An excellent teammate that was never selfish. He’d always be at the forefront of the student section in Addison supporting other teams.
You could tell by watching Blake interact with his teammates that both of his parents were coaches themselves and you can see the same thing in their daughter Kerrigan, who is a great athlete in her own right.
I think that’s why people gravitated towards Blake and his family over the years.
So, Rest In Peace to a great kid and athlete taken way too soon. I’m sure (or there better be) a high school tournament in Blake’s name that athletes will tell stories about and be able to say, “I had my best game at that tournament,”.
Frankly, this moment sucks. This tragedy sucks.
But I can be sure of one thing, #BlakeStrong will live on in Addison and surrounding communities for a long time. Carrying on the legacy of a great kid and great athlete.