SANGER, Texas – Just north of Dallas at a town in Denton County known for its salt-of-the-earth people, you’ll find Texas values, Texas pride, and a sincere love for one sweet sensation – snow cones.
What you’ll notice in this tiny town supported by the local community is a business that’s doing more than just skipping by, it’s lifting hearts thanks to a young, inspirational, and very popular entrepreneur. It seems the small snow cone shack simply known as Blake’s has taken the town by storm.
The secret to these special snow cones isn’t the extra ingredients or fancy umbrellas; it’s the local who decided to start up this brisk business: Blake.
“Blake loves snow cones, so we just went for it,” said Mary Ann Pyron, Blake’s mother.
Blake’s mom Mary Ann is his biggest supporter. The mother of two boys, she spends the majority of her time making sure Blake’s life is just like anyone else’s.
“We’ve always had high expectations for Blake. We’ve been blessed with wonderful people that support us and support him, and we think the sky is the limit for our son,” said Mary Ann.
This passion and drive for her son all started in February 1996.
“The day Blake was born, he was born that morning. Then, that evening they came in and started saying that they thought he had Down Syndrome, and I flat told my husband, ‘She’s crazy, he’s perfect,’ and also, we didn’t even really know what Down Syndrome was,” Mary Ann said.
Mary Ann and her husband Billy didn’t know what to expect.
“Whenever Blake was born, they didn’t give us a lot of hope. You know, it was, he might be able to walk, he might be able to talk. But they didn’t, they were just like, here’s your baby. There’s not a lot of hope,” said Mary Ann. “We decided to rise above, and we were, this is going to be okay. Blake’s going to be fine, and we’re going to make sure of that.”
It wasn’t just Blake’s family that supported their son throughout his life – so has the entire town of Sanger. From Friday night football to asking his girlfriend Sarah to prom, Sanger has been an even bigger rock in Blake’s life.
“He’s just brought a lot of hope to Sanger, and a lot of enthusiasm and excitement, and I know that for my kids, he’s just a real great role model,” said Carrie Bilyeu, local Sanger resident.
Blake didn’t receive any shortcuts or free passes when it came to opening his business. The youngest entrepreneur in town, he helped make a business plan and brought his proposal to city council. Councilman Gary Bilyeu remembers it well.
“I don’t thinking anybody’s making exceptions. You know, we didn’t on the city council. He went through the process just like anyone else, and my vote was just one vote, but it was a unanimous council. We were very supportive of him,” said Councilman Bilyeu.
Thanks to this unanimous vote, Blake was able to start up his business. The moment that Blake first laid eyes on his snow cone shack was a moment that Mary Ann won’t forget.
“Whenever he saw the trailer with his name on it, and he, it’s like his chest just, like, swells up. He just, there’s just so much pride and joy. And that’s probably my favorite part,” Mary Ann said.
Not only is Blake’s influence inspiring a whole city, he is also motivating his help. Tanner Maples helps Blake with his snow cone stand and is an incredible embodiment of what this town is all about.
“He defies the odds. I mean, people tell him that just because he’s got Down Syndrome he can’t do anything, but he just opened up his own business like it was nothing,” said Maples.
Blake’s joyful attitude and welcoming personality are key components of what makes his role in the snow cone shack so necessary.
“His enthusiasm and his heart, you can just see it, and it comes from within,” said Carrie Bilyeu.
So if you ever find yourself in Sanger, stop by Blake’s Snow Shack not just for a treat, but to rouse and fill your Lone Star State soul with the energy and enthusiasm of a bright young Texan and a town that defines the Spirit of Texas.
“Believe in your kid. You know, regardless of what experts tell you. Believe in your kid and support them,” said Mary Ann.
Advice that the whole town of Sanger didn’t need telling twice to follow.
“When you see the town rally behind Blake and his family, that’s what makes small town America, especially small town Texas, great,” said Councilman Bilyeu.