Amy Blesie and her sons, Ethan and Carson, were the inspiration behind the Blesie Tree Foundation. We got to know them when Amy’s husband, Eric, was a patient at The Ghosh Center. When Eric passed away in October 2012, at the age of 41, his family decided to create hope out of loss. Amy donated a memorial gift in Eric’s honor, accompanied by a note asking us to use the funds to pay kindness forward to other families.
This act of generosity became the seeds of the Blesie Tree. Named after the Jesse tree in Isaiah 11:1, a tree that bears much fruit, it has grown into an abundant source of good for local cancer patients. Registrations for the annual Blesie Tree Walk and other contributions support the Foundation’s mission and create a perpetual giving source.
We recently caught up with Amy Blesie to get her perspective on the fifth anniversary of the annual walk.
People were so good to us when Eric was sick and after he died. We had an overwhelming outpouring of support. It got us through some very dark days. I can’t imagine getting through that period of our lives without it.
At the same time, I realized that not everyone has this level of support, even though they deserve to. So, I wanted to do something in Eric’s memory that would help others as we were helped.
Some of my friends from work and a parent put together a benefit to help pay our medical bills and other expenses. They held a spaghetti dinner featuring a silent auction and a band, and Eric was able to be there. When Ethan was in second grade, some of the students in his class wrote cards to us and donated their own money. I came home one fall day to find that his teacher had placed four to five beautiful pumpkins on our front porch. There were so many unexpected acts of kindness.
The Ghosh Center was awesome to us. The staff doesn’t just treat patients, they care for the whole family. I wasn’t the person with cancer, but they showed compassion and caring to me, too. I couldn’t think of a better place for this donation.
It’s different in that it’s so much bigger than I ever dreamed it would be. The team used my donation to create a foundation. From there, it moved into a walk, which helps fund a steady stream of giving. The board has multiplied my gift to help so many more people than seemed possible at the time.
But in some ways, it matches my vision. I sent the gift because I wanted my sons to know how important it is to give to others. And I wanted to celebrate their dad and give them a great way to remember him because they were so young when he died. The Blesie Tree has accomplished both of those things.
In the spring of 2013, I moved to North Dakota, to be closer to my parents. Life is good. I’m a school counselor at Lincoln Elementary in Fargo. Ethan is 13 and in seventh grade. Carson just turned 10 and is in fourth grade. Eric would be very proud of us, especially his boys.
We see my family frequently, and my parents often come to the Blesie Tree Walk with us. We’ll be kicking off the walk this year as we always do, and I’m looking forward to connecting with friends, former students and, of course, the team at The Ghosh Center.