Ballston Spa teen delivers bears, blankets to cancer patients
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. >> Blade Osborn is a busy young man. At 17, the Ballston Spa High School junior is taking college level courses through a program offered by Hudson Valley Community College, he coaches soccer, he is an aspiring artist, and he runs a very busy charitable organization called Buddy Blankets & Bears. Inc.
The charity really began back when Blade was an 8-year-old child, accompanying his mother, Elizabeth Osborn, to her treatment sessions at the Oncology Hematology Center in Latham. Most patients there had friends and loved ones with them for support.
However, Blade noticed one elderly gentleman seated alone in his treatment chair in a corner of the room. He was wearing a WW II veteran’s cap on his head. Blade was very interested in the history of war and he went over to visit the man.
On his way over there, he noticed the man shivering from the side effects of the treatment. Patients often feel extremely cold during cancer treatments. Blade stopped at the nurse’s desk and asked for a blanket, which he brought over to the man.
Blade continued to accompany his mother to her treatments and, each week, he spent hours chatting with his new friend and learning all about his exploits during the war. Blade never asked the man his name and simply referred to him as his “buddy.”
On his mother’s last day of treatment, Blade arrived as usual, ready to keep “Buddy” company; but, Buddy didn’t make it on that day or any other. He had finally succumbed to his illness.
Soon after, one of the nurses received a letter from “Buddy’s” family, who lived on the West Coast and couldn’t be there for their father. In the letter, they mentioned how much the little “blanket boy” who visited their dad meant to him and they were so grateful that their father did not spend his final weeks alone.
Blade’s experience accompanying his mother to her own treatments, along with his friendship with “Buddy,” made a huge impact on the young boy and he resolved to make sure that veterans who were sick and undergoing treatments for cancer or other illnesses without the help and support of family would never be cold. He called his charity “Buddy Blankets” to honor his WW II veteran friend.
Eight years later, Blade and his mother are busier than ever supplying blankets to hospitals and treatment centers for patients in need.
“Some treatment centers don’t have blankets to give out, and patients are expected to bring one with them,” Blade said.
He added that some veterans may be homeless and do not own a blanket. He works with the staffs at the treatment centers, who know which patients need a Buddy Blanket.
They have also expanded their giving to include Buddy Bears.
“I hated seeing the loneliness of children whose parents are in the military and are gone for months at a time,” he said.
He decided he would expand by giving bears to the children of military parents.
In 2015, Blade took it one step further. A long-time family friend, Tammy, had just recently lost her long battle with cancer. Tammy was a nurse and Blade remembered how caring and compassionate she had always been with others.
Blade and his mother, Mrs. Osborn, decided to add “Tammy’s Buddy Bears” to their organization and they now distribute bears to children in hospitals undergoing treatment for cancer and other illnesses.
Over the years, Blade and his mother estimate they have given out hundreds of blankets and bears. Blade uses the money he earns as a private soccer coach to purchase bears and blankets. They have also received generous donations from several companies, private organizations and individuals around the region.
In most cases, Blade or his mother prefer to deliver the blankets and bears themselves; but, recently, they have begun shipping the bears around the country in response to requests they receive from people who have heard of them. They do not turn down a request for a blanket or bear.
It costs about $12 to ship a bear, which Blade and his mother pack in the child’s favorite color tissue paper and include a personalized note addressed to the child. They even draw or paint colorful decorations on the outside of each box before they get shipped to their grateful young recipients.
Buddy Blankets & Bears, Inc. is a registered 501-C3 non-profit and they hold fund drives twice each year in July and December. The rest of the work is done almost entirely by Blade and his family, who could not be more proud of their brother and son.
If you are interested in finding out more about Buddy Blankets & Bears, or if you would like to donate, you can email Blade Osborn at or like them on Facebook: Buddy Blankets & Bears, Inc.
Monetary donations, blankets and bears (all new, please) can be mailed to: Buddy Blankets & Bears, Inc. PO Box 298, Ballston Spa, NY 12020.