CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A young boy and a longtime anti-litter advocate, both of whom died tragically earlier this year, were memorialized in a dedication ceremony at a Chicopee boat ramp Friday. The ceremony at the Medina Street Boat Ramp honored both 12 year-old Aiden Blanchard and Jack Coughlin.
The Medina Street boat launch in Chicopee is finally completed after undergoing a million dollar restoration and with it, a memorial.
“Let this bench not only be a memorial to honor Aiden’s memory but a memorial for all those who have lost their lives in the river. I also want it to be a reminder that safety should never be compromised,” said Michelle Blanchard, Aiden’s mother.
Blanchard disappeared not far from the ramp back in February. He was the subject of an extensive search that covered an area of the Connecticut River all the way down to Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Blanchard’s body was not found until about two months later. He was determined to have drowned.
Coughlin was known locally and statewide for his efforts to eliminate litter, and had been an advocate for legislation to put a five-cent deposit on miniature alcohol bottles, commonly known as “nips.”
Coughlin was struck by a car in his hometown of Agawam back in January. The accident left him paralyzed, and he died months later.
The Medina Street Boat Ramp was among the places that Coughlin had worked to clear of litter and debris, so that it could be a more enjoyable space for the community. Many agreed the renovation of the boat launch would never have happened without the tireless work of Jack Coughlin.
“My father should be at my side right now. He said to me last fall when he learned that the project was a go, he said to me, ‘I just have to make sure it gets completed and then I can die.’ I told him you’d live to be a hundred, he truly would have,” said Sean Coughlin, son of Jack.
Not only will generations to come remember Aiden and Jack’s legacies but state and local officials say because of the Medina Street Boat ramp, others will be better protected on the water and the entire community can enjoy nature and all it has to offer. The medina street boat launch has now re-opened and can be used by the public.