State News

Slain trooper's widow to help preemies

Posted May 31, 2009 4:02 a.m. EDT
Updated May 31, 2009 3:01 p.m. EDT

— A state trooper's widow, whose son died four months after his father, will celebrate what would have been her son's first birthday by launching a foundation to help premature babies and their families.

Michaela Blanton and Trooper David Shawn Blanton Jr. welcomed their son Tye into the world May 31, 2008. Tye was seven weeks premature and had heart and neurological problems.

On June 17, 2008, David Blanton was shot to death during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 near Canton. Edwardo Wong, 37, of Ormond Beach, Fla., was quickly arrested in the slaying.

Communities and groups around the state rallied around Michaela Blanton and Tye, as the infant underwent surgeries and treatment at Duke University Children's Hospital and Missions Hospitals in Asheville.

Tye died in October, four months to the day after his father. He was laid to rest next to his father.

Michaela Blanton and her sister-in-law Shea Layman have created the only foundation in western North Carolina dedicated solely to premature babies.

"With the foundation, we are able to give back to the community, after all the help they have given us. The foundation is a way to honor Tye while helping to change the lives of other babies like Tye," the women wrote on the foundation's Web site.

The Tye Blanton Foundation will support babies and parents at the neonatal intensive care unit at Missions Hospitals, where Tye spent much of his short life.

"The NICU helps save and better the lives of extremely sick and fragile babies and their families," read the foundation's Web site.

Michaela Blanton and Layman were collecting preemie clothing and homemade blankets for the babies and gas cards, restaurant gift certificates, movie passes and gift cards to Wal-Mart and Target for the parents. Clothes and blankets for preemies have to be new, because the babies' skin is so sensitive.

The foundation kicks off with a fund raiser at the Maggie Valley Country Club, 1819 Country Club Drive in Maggie Valley, from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Proceeds from a $10 cover charge will go to the foundation, and attendees were asked to bring donations of clothing and other items.