Undeterred by setbacks, Special Tuesday lives on

Bobbie Blanchard's boundless energy and irrepressible spirit have made six Tuesday's special for two decades

Bobbie Blanchard’s boundless energy and irrepressible spirit have made six Tuesday’s special for two decades

Bobbie Blanchard is no stranger to crises having overcome innumerable obstacles in staging Special Tuesday for two decades.  In the early days it was a one-woman operation motivated by a grandmother’s desire to provide a few hours of pleasure and the gift of normalcy to her special needs grandson.  Bobbie devoted much of her existence, countless hours and exhaustive effort, to create a safe and nurturing atmosphere for her beloved grandchild, Beau Porto, and some of his friends.

“I never could have dreamed back then that Special Tuesday would become what it is,” she said before scurrying off to take care of another detail Tuesday morning.  “Walk and talk…and by the way, you’re a healthy looking fella,” Bobbie generously described this generously proportioned reporter.  “Can you bring those boxes inside?”

One can no more resist the irresistible force that is Bobbie Blanchard on Special Tuesday than one can hold back the tides.  No time for talk; this morning found Bobbie directing four or five clusters of activity populated by dozens of local teenagers who joined Volunteens to be a part of the event.

Even this intrepid woman was disheartened to find that vandals had stolen or destroyed the equipment relied upon to entertain the few hundred special needs kids of all ages who so look forward to six Special Tuesdays every summer.

“No, I never doubted that Special Tuesday would go on as before.  We were going to find a way,” Bobbie Blanchard insisted.  “But the outpouring of generosity we’ve been shown by so many people has been humbling and lifted so much of our burden.”

An extra special Bobbie Blanchard thank you was reserved for Chuck Lavigne and Billy Haydel who delivered jambalaya, white beans and all the fixings from Pot & Paddle Jambalaya Kitchen.

pot & paddle

They arrived just around noon with enough to feed everyone.

Chuck Lavigne (l) wheeling the first cart of jambalaya into the gym at the old G. W. Carver school in Gonzales

Chuck Lavigne (l) wheeling the first cart of jambalaya into the gym at the old G. W. Carver school in Gonzales

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary event,” Lavigne said.

Pot & Paddle is set to open a second location near Cabela’s on Hwy 30 in Gonzales in a few weeks.  It already has a Baton Rouge location on Jefferson Hwy.

Sherry Denig took the first bite of delicious Pot & Paddle jambalaya

Sherry Denig took the first bite of delicious Pot & Paddle jambalaya

Sherry Denig of Volunteer Ascension organized Volunteens to prepare the food service, games and all kinds of activities for the Special guests who would begin arriving within the hour.

“Bobbie is simply amazing,” Denig said.  “And so are all these great kids who so eagerly volunteer their time.”

(l-r) Haiden, Cameron and Baili; took charge of setting up the kitchen area

(l-r) Haiden, Cameron and Baili; took charge of setting up the kitchen area

Two more of Bobbie Blanchard’s go-to volunteers…

Nan LeBlanc giving Chuck Lavigne cooking advice

Nan LeBlanc giving Chuck Lavigne a few pointers

Nan LeBlanc’s energy and gregarious nature rival even Bobbie Blanchard’s…

Angela LeBlanc (l) with Sammy

Angela LeBlanc (l) with Sammy

and Angela LeBlanc devoted countless hours to get the old G.W. Carver school gym ready for Tuesday’s guests.

Bobbie Blanchard noted all the donations from too many local residents to name; but reserved a special thanks for Brandon and Lindsey Delbosque whose generosity knew no limit.

Lamendola's banner

Lamendola’s Supermarket in Gonzales donated a gift card for $1,000 to meet any of Special Tuesday’s needs.

And soon enough the guests would arrive.

Special Tuesday

They would keep coming all afternoon.

Special Tuesday

That’s when this Tuesday became truly special.

Special Tuesday

And this is what Special Tuesday is really all about…

Special Tuesday

Carefree summer days to catch up with old friends…

Special Tuesday

Make some new friends…

Special Tuesday

Shoot some pool…

She made 11 in a row at one point

She made 11 in a row at one point

Or some hoops…Special Tuesday

Maybe some ping pong…

Special Tuesday

Sammy’s all kinetic, frenetic energy

 

Celebrate the joy of living while showing off your best dance moves…

Special Tuesday

Share a Coke and an awful lot of smiles…

Special Tuesday

And take care of each other.  We all got something we needed on this Special Tuesday.