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Globe South People: Blathras family of Weymouth joins Walk for Hospice

By Paul Kandarian
March 18, 2012
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WEYMOUTH CLAN HONORARY WALK FAMILY: The Blathras family of Weymouth, owners of Plaza Cleaners & Tailors, is putting its best face forward as this year’s honorary family at the 2012 Walk for Hospice of the South Shore Saturday.

It’s a face that belongs to the clan’s late matriarch, Parthena “Tina’’ Blathras, who died last year at age 56 from multiple system atrophy, a rare neurological disorder similar to Parkinson’s disease.

“She was the face of the store,’’ said one of her sons, Kosta Blathras. “There wasn’t one customer whose name she didn’t know.’’

About eight years ago, Parthena Blathras started suffering pains and stiffness in her arms, and upon later examination was found to have multiple system atrophy, the symptoms of which are slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, and poor balance. As the disease progressed, Blathras was confined to a wheelchair and couldn’t help run the business. More importantly, she couldn’t spend time during the day with her relatives who were running it.

“It was terrible,’’ Kosta said. “She had trouble speaking, walking, even swallowing. It was like being trapped in your own body.’’

Last spring, she was hospitalized for a month with fluid in her lungs, with doctors eventually telling the family that she didn’t have much longer to live. Family members called Hospice of the South Shore and that afternoon, Kosta said, were told “a hospital bed, humidifier, oxygen tanks, and more would be delivered to our house shortly. We were able to bring Mom home the next day.’’

The tough matriarch stuck it out for weeks, not days as doctors had predicted, and watched the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup in June with her loved ones before dying July 7, surrounded by her husband, Leonidas, sons Kosta and Michael, and large extended family.

Serving as the 2012 Walk for Hospice of the South Shore’s honorary family was an easy decision to make, Kosta Blathras said, since they’d received so much help from the agency, which is headquartered in Braintree.

Scott Wahle, director of public relations and strategic communications at Royal Health Group, and former news and sports anchor at WBZ-TV, will be master of ceremonies at the annual walk at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree. Registration for the 1-mile walk starts at 7 a.m., and the walk ends around 10 a.m., organizers said.

The event began 21 years ago with 100 walkers, at the Hanover Mall, who raised $32,000. This year, organizers hope to raise $230,000 with the help of 125 walking teams and 3,000 participants. For information, and to pledge money or sponsor a walker, visit www.southshorehospital.org/events, or call Heather Dwyer at 781-624-8094.

“There are so many stories like ours, sons and daughters who lose parents much younger than ours,’’ Kosta Blathras said. “Unfortunately, these things happen to families every day. The best thing they can do is keep their loved one in their hearts and support this great organization.’’

GRANTS FOR CANTON YOUTHS: The Canton-based Paul R. Matthews Foundation is accepting grant applications for programs benefiting the youth of Canton. It was established in memory of Matthews, who died in March 2009 at 54. He was a longtime champion of extracurricular activities for the town’s youth, and served four terms on the Canton School Committee.

During the past two years, the foundation contributed to The Luce School’s playground fund, bought communication software for the school, and provided Canton High School a courtyard beautification grant. Almost $20,000 has been awarded by the foundation since its inception, said its founder, Suzanne Matthews, wife of Paul R. Matthews.

Applications can be downloaded from www.prmfoundation.com/givingback. For information, e-mail prmfoundation@aol.com or call 781-828-0989. Deadline for submission is May 18 and only programs and individuals from Canton may apply.

BAKING FOR A CAUSE: Elementary students in grades 4 through 6 at Bay Farm Montessori Academy in Duxbury recently participated in a community service project sponsored by King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt., called “Life Skills Baking,’’ in which students learned how to make yeast bread from scratch. They baked 22 loaves of bread in a kitchen at Bay Farm and donated them to the Plymouth Area Coalition for the Homeless in Kingston.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Dermatologists Amy Chang and Katalin Kovalski have joined South Shore Dermatology Physicians in Easton. Kovalski is on staff at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton. Chang is also on staff at that hospital, and also at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

Dan K. Trout of Abington, (inset), vice president of business lending for Mutual Bank in Whitman, was appointed to the additional title of senior commercial loan officer. He joined the bank in 2010 and has more than 25 years experience in the local commercial banking and lending industry. He also serves on the board of governors of the Old Colony YMCA and is on the board of directors for the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association.

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at Kandarian@globe.com

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