HEARTWARMING: Lexington burger joint helps special needs family with ‘Blake’s Shakes’

Updated: Apr. 9, 2021 at 5:28 PM EDT
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PELION, S.C. (WIS) - Andrea Stroud’s home needs a facelift. ”The shell of the home is falling apart,” Stroud said.

Walking around the rusting trailer, the signs of stress inside and outside of the mobile home off Highway 302 are everywhere. Broken windows, a leaking roof, and 100 amp electric service for a 200 amp home are just a sample of some of the problems Stroud faces with her property.

She says the electric service alone is a major hazard, as it often overheats just feet away from where her son Blake sleeps.

The situation is more difficult because Blake Stroud has Down Syndrome and suffers from severe obstructive sleep apnea.

Andrea said ideally, Blake needs a home that is handicap accessible and more suited to his needs.

At 22 years old, Blake’s cramped bedroom is getting smaller by the day, while his medical needs loom ever larger.

Andrea said a sleep study conducted on Blake just weeks ago, revealed Blake is not waking up when his sleep apnea prevents him from breathing at night.

“So normally where he would stop breathing...he would jump up or gasp for air in the middle of the night,” Andrea explains. “But his body is so tired (now) that he’s not responding or gasping for air anymore. And he can easily just slip into a coma.”An expensive surgery that will help Blake breathe is on the horizon.”

Medical costs only partly explain why an addition on the home, which Blake could use, remains unfinished. Materials and labor are also in short supply in the construction industry right now.

Andrea is on this journey alone. Her husband passed away 11 years ago.

Taking care of Blake and keeping up on repairs is becoming nearly too much to bear. “Trying to figure out how to provide...this is just out of my stretch. I can’t do it on my own,” Andrea said.

Jay Webb runs Highway 55 Burgers and Fries off Lake Drive in Lexington. He saw Blake’s need and decided to act. When Jay heard about Blake’s situation, he created a milkshake fundraiser for the Stroud family.

With that, “Blake’s Shakes” was born. ”We came up with a blue one because blue is Blake’s favorite color,” Webb explained.

The shakes were an instant hit. Webb estimates his location has sold nearly 2,500 Blake’s Shakes in the month of March.

A share of the proceeds from Blake’s Shakes, over $6,000 dollars, will go directly toward a permanent fix of Blake’s home, either through repairs or towards purchasing a used double-wide trailer more suitable to Blake’s needs.

The community has stepped up in other ways. Local VFW branches have hosted fundraisers, and the Stroud’s plan to host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser as well. They have set up a GoFundMe and you can find more information on how to give here.

There’s still a ways to go, but “Blake’s Shakes” are a good start. Webb says he decided to help because of a mission he wears as a permanent tattoo.

“Love your neighbor,” Webb said, revealing a logo branded on his forearm. “Every day we wake up and ask ‘How can we love our community through cheeseburgers, French-fries, and milkshakes?’”

It would appear he found a pretty good answer with “Blake’s Shakes.” Sweet concoctions that will help bring some much-needed breathing room for a mom and her son.

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