Unsung Hero #9

In 2004, Brendan and Jenna Baker moved to Westport from London.

They’ve got 4 children. The youngest son – 8-year-old Henry — is battling leukemia.

Brendan and Jenna Baker with (from left) Henry, Riley, Mary and Shea.

First diagnosed at 2, he endured 40 months of chemotherapy — and beat it.

But last October, Henry suffered a relapse. He’s in the midst of 24 more months of chemo.

He spent most of last year at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven. But he was home schooled, and looks forward to moving on to 4th grade at Saugatuck Elementary School this fall.

Yet Henry’s dad is not nominating him as our “Unsung Hero” of the week — though he is certainly heroic in our eyes.

Instead, Brendan writes about a “Team Henry” party the family hosted recently, at Compo Beach. It was the Bakers’ way of thanking everyone in the community who supported them through a very difficult time: family, friends, neighbors, and so many people at Saugatuck El.

As part of the celebration, the Bakers hired Phil and Tom Ice Cream — “the Good Humor Men” — to treat all the kids.

“Joanne and Peter Topalian were absolutely fantastic,” Brendan says. “They happily served almost 150 ice cream treats to a lot of happy kids.”

Peter and Joanne Topalian, with one of the many “Team Henry” guests.

A couple of weeks ago — at 8 p.m. — the Bakers’ doorbell rang.

In the driveway were Joanne, Peter, and their gleaming white Good Humor truck.

“They stopped by simply because they wanted to do something nice for Henry,” Brendan says.

“They were touched by his story. They said they constantly think of him, and had stopped by a few times since the party. Unfortunately we weren’t home.”

Henry and his sisters were beyond excited to go outside, and pick out a treat from the truck.

Peter and Joanne Topalian and the Baker family

Peter and Joanne, and the Baker family.

“They did not have to do this,” Brendan notes. “It is a wonderful local business, run by genuinely good people who simply want to make a difference in the life of a young Westport boy fighting cancer.”

The timing was perfect.

The next day, Henry headed to New Haven for an afternoon of tests and chemotherapy.

A few nights later, the Topalians were back again.

Thanks, Joanne and Peter — aka “Phil and Tom, the Good Humor Men” — for a tiny gesture that meant a ton.

(Know of an unsung hero we should celebrate? Email details to dwoog@optonline.net)

9 responses to “Unsung Hero #9

  1. Jan Carpenter

    Such a great story. What a great gesture!

  2. Susan Schmidt

    Love it – and go Team Henry!

  3. I met Pete Topalian when he contacted Aspetuck Land Trust about donating funds to our Osprey platform project at our Allen Salt Marsh Preserve and Taylortown Salt Marsh. Great civic minded folks who make add so much value to our town. Great story of courage and kindness. Go Team Henry!

  4. Diane Silfen

    What a wonderful community we live in!

  5. Janette Kinnally

    Yes, that is such a great story!
    Go Henry!!
    Prayers and blessings to you and your family and that you beat this cancer.

  6. Trish Lawrence

    heartbreaking, but wonderful to see the support our town can give. Henry, don’t you give up! Keep marching forward and you can beat this disease! Sending you strength energy and love! xo

  7. Dana McCreesh

    i love this story. go henry’1

  8. Such a wonderful gesture for a lovely family. I enjoyed having all four of the Baker children in my class at Greens Farms Nursery School. Best wishes and fist bumps to Henry and his challenge. And thumbs up to Joanne and Peter for their generosity to the Bakers.

  9. Sending much love to the Baker family! It is just like them to nominate others for recognition when they themselves are going through (and also giving) so much themselves.