I was the Store Manager of the Brea Rack and undergoing treatment for Breast Cancer in 2010 when Blake first popped by the Brea Rack unexpectedly. As I was in my office reviewing my figures from the day prior I heard a knock on my office door (which of course was left open), I looked up to find Blake standing at my door with a big smile saying, “Hi, I thought I’d stop by and see the store so how about i give you a minute and I meet you out on the floor?” I think at that moment my heart dropped to my stomach!! I quickly gathered my figures and composure and headed to the floor to find Blake. We walked my store he asked me questions about my business, pointed out some things he liked, asked questions about things he didn’t like, made sure the water temperature in our drinking fountain was a good temperature for anyone that may drink out of it, checked my fitting room area to make sure I had seats for guest to sit on, checked my signs in shoes to make sure if I had enough larger sizes and if they were signed so the customer knew we went up to size 20! When the visit first started to walk with him, I was a nervous wreck but as I began to talk with him, I had a calm come over me. He had the ability to make me feel very comfortable. Overall, I guess I passed my visit because he had called my boss Kim Cimino to let her know he enjoyed his visit. During their conversation, Kim had shared with him that I was undergoing treatment for Breast Cancer and working. That’s when the other unexpected happened. Blake sent me a personal email letting me know what Kim had shared with him. He wanted to thank me and told me he admired my fight. He shared his mother’s story with me and also that he himself had had many melanoma removed so much so he felt like a human zipper himself. There were a few emails after that and a second surprise visit. Between all of that, there was always a personal “Hello, Hey, how are you doing” whenever I got the chance to see him at recognition meetings. I had saved that email because it meant so much to me that he reached out. I recently emailed him back on his announcement of his lymphoma with now encouraging words for him. I was able to let him know how touched I was by him reaching out to me when I was going through treatment and how kind he was to take time out of his day to email me. Through these tributes I am reading many of stories just like mine. I have to say, I am so proud to have worked and known such an amazing inspiring, and genuine caring man. This world has truly lost someone spectacular! My heart is heavy for all of those who are mourning his loss. He will not be forgotten and his legacy has been left behind in all who have crossed paths with him. Rest In Peace Blake.

Melanie Mullinax