2018-05-24 / News

Family open business with mission to help others

By Alex Coleman
Courier Intern


Tyler LeBlanc with stepfather, Douglas, and his mom, Karen Novak, show off Tyler’s Special Olympics shirt in front of their new business, Sizzle’s, in downtown Old Orchard Beach. The Novaks hope to use the money they earn here to open a center back in Naples Florida for adults with special needs. (Alex Coleman photo) Tyler LeBlanc with stepfather, Douglas, and his mom, Karen Novak, show off Tyler’s Special Olympics shirt in front of their new business, Sizzle’s, in downtown Old Orchard Beach. The Novaks hope to use the money they earn here to open a center back in Naples Florida for adults with special needs. (Alex Coleman photo) OLD ORCHARD BEACH – New Old Orchard Beach High School student Tyler LeBlanc, age 16, is the inspiration behind a new business in town.

Tyler and his parents moved this April from Naples, Florida to start a business in downtown Old Orchard Beach, Sizzles Deep Fried, 17D Old Orchard Beach Street, Old Orchard Beach. His stepfather Douglas and mom Karen Novak opened the business with the goal of using profits toward opening a center for adults with special needs back in Florida.

Tyler has battled cancer nearly his whole life after first being diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 3. The cancer resulted in complete loss of hearing, leaving Tyler to rely on a cochlear implant. According to his doctors, the chemotherapy and radiation treatments caused Tyler to need additional surgeries to combat the damage.

In addition to his hearing loss, Tylers C1, C2 and C3 vertebrae disintegrated during treatment. These vertebrae are apart of the cervical spine beginning at the base of the skull.

When Tyler was born he was what is known as weak muscle tone. His speech had been delayed and this was what signaled to his mom that something wasn't right. Since then as a family, they have worked to improve Tyler’s quality of life.

"He's my firecracker baby," Karen Novak said when describing Tyler's spirit through it all. "Woohoo!" responded Tyler during an interview saturday May 19 at Sizzle’s.

Having started at Old Orchard Beach High School this past April Tyler was able to compete in the Special Olympics on May 3, earning a ribbon for the long jump and shot put.

According to his parents and doctors, Tyler was not supposed to live as long as he has and the family feels extremely fortunate that he is here today.

“I don’t think people realize how lucky they are,” Douglas Novak said.

The Novaks want to use the money they make at Sizzle’s to open a special needs adult center in Florida with a missionary organization called the Shepard Network. After meeting director Cal Montenegro through friends they were able to start the process of bringing this idea to life.

Douglas and Karen Novak were childhood sweethearts who wound up going their separate ways but reconnected through Facebook and have been together for the past three years. Since then the pair have worked together on the prospect of opening the business.

“It was a journey.” said Karen Novak about her families trip to Maine. The family drove 1572 miles over the course of three days traveling with all of their newly purchased equipment in trailers.

Sizzle's offers fried food and authentic Cuban sandwiches and plans to provide a delivery service to bring food to seven drop points along Old Orchard Beach and to hotels along East and West Grand avenues.

At Sizzle's Tyler has his own chores, which include bringing up drink orders and setting out condiments.

Sizzles has undergone a total renovation with all new equipment and a menu that features 119 items. The delivery service will be run through its website, which The Novaks plan to have ready by Memorial Day.

Alex Coleman is a senior at Old Orchard Beach High School.

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