Saltwater Portrait

Rehoboth’s Cheryl Blackman suffers setback

Jeep ride takes place July 13
July 13, 2016

One of Rehoboth Beach's most memorable figures is fighting for her life.

Cheryl Blackman, the pint-sized, ever-smiling, ever-fundraising patriot of the Boardwalk has seen the breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 2010 metastasize to her abdomen. Her sister, Sharon Sherwood, said Blackman has moved into a house on Stockley Street Extended better equipped for Blackman's medical needs. Sherwood said Blackman's prognosis is poor; she is no longer undergoing treatment to stop the cancer.

"It's at the hospice level now," she said.

Sherwood said the returning cancer has been aggressive, and Blackman is on a liquid diet, unable to eat solid food.

While the prognosis may be bad, Blackman's spirits are not. She still flashes a smile and jokes about her bloated belly.

"I feel great," she said. "I can't wait to get back downtown to see everybody."

Blackman's mother, Shirley Bennett said, "She doesn't like having a stomach. I said, 'You're just like the rest of us now.'"

Blackman's new house is still undergoing renovations since it was purchased a year ago, Sherwood said.

"I love it," Blackman said of the house. A fan of all things red, white and blue, Blackman decorated her room in the color scheme.

She's had a steady stream of visitors and cards and flowers since word of her illness spread. Sherwood hopes the weather gets cooler soon so the family can take Blackman to the Boardwalk to see the ocean.

Blackman, 53, worked at Grotto Pizza on Rehoboth Avenue, and could always be found walking around Rehoboth raising money for KINfolk, a charity that helps children in need. For her work with KINfolk, Blackman was awarded the Governor's Outstanding Volunteer Service Award in 2011.

"All my tickets are here," Blackman said dejectedly about not being able to sell her KINfolk raffle tickets.

Friends and family have announced Cheryl will ride in a Jeep about 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13,  along Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach.  Signs of support and well wishes will be appreciated.

The holidays are where Blackman really shines, dressing up to celebrate special days, especially patriotic holidays like Memorial Day or Fourth of July where Blackman could often be found strolling the Boardwalk in head-to-toe stars and stripes topped off by flag-adorned sunglasses. Her costumes are a nod to Blackman's past work in show business, where she was an actress and stunt double; the 4-foot-6 Blackman used her roller-skating talents to double for Miss Piggy in the 1984 film "The Muppets Take Manhattan."

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2010, just before she and her mother were to take a trip to Florida. Since then, she has undergone chemotherapy and treatment, including two mastectomies.

Grotto Pizza founder Dominick Pulieri said, "I was very saddened to hear about Cheryl. She is a joy to be around. Her attitude never changed when she was on the clock or walking on the Boardwalk. Every time you saw her there was a smile on her face. She loved being part of the Grotto Pizza family and making everyone around her happy."

Sherwood said the family has created a Gmail account,, where they are inviting anyone to share memories and stories about Blackman.

"She loves to hear them," Sherwood said. "That makes her happy."

Friends and family have announced Cheryl will ride in a Jeep about 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 13,  along Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach.  Signs of support and well wishes will be appreciated.


  • The Cape Gazette staff has been doing Saltwater Portraits weekly (mostly) for more than 20 years. Reporters, on a rotating basis, prepare written and photographic portraits of a wide variety of characters peopling Delaware's Cape Region. Saltwater Portraits typically appear in the Cape Gazette's Tuesday edition as the lead story in the Cape Life section.

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