Oh these shoes. These bright blue and orange shoes. I remember the day we bought them. I took Gabe out and we were in the shoe section. I picked up this box of very bright shoes and opened it. I wrinkled my nose and said “You won’t like these”. He of course had to see them, and he of course fell in LOVE with them. They became a prized possession. So prized, in fact, that he would wear them to school but change out of them when he got home. He didn’t want to mess them up when he was on his bike or skateboard. Because of that they still look new. And they are still upstairs in his room, in a box along with other items we had displayed at his funeral. There the shoes will stay. Those shoes though, they are so GABE. They are loud and bright, demanding attention. They can’t be missed and they are definitely not subtle. Not the slightest bit subtle. Just like Gabe. He was loud and bright and definitely demanded attention. He couldn’t be missed and he was not subtle. Not the slightest bit subtle.
Those loud, bright shoes were the inspiration for something very special. After Gabe died some of the kids in the marching band and Mr. Nash (the band director) designed these special shirts to represent Gabe. They chose the colors that very closely matched those shoes. The ones that were so GABE. On the front is his favorite bible verse, a pair of headphones like he almost always wore, a heart for obvious reasons, and 3 things he participated in- sticks for percussion, a spotlight for theater, and a skateboarder because he was. The band sold those shirts and gave us the money to help with our expenses. After the sale stopped, though, more people wanted shirts. So we began holding sales to benefit Camp Holiday Trails. CHT is a very special camp for children with special health needs. We had the wonderful privilege of going there to 3 separate family weekends- for families with heart kids. It is an amazing place and we wanted to give back.
The other component of this shirt is a way to keep Gabe’s memory alive. About 2 months after Gabe’s death, Doug and took our other boys on a trip to Tennessee. As we got to the Aquarium (Gabe LOVED aquariums) Doug asked me to take his picture in the shirt. He came up with the idea of a Facebook group called “Gabe’s Shirt Goes To”. The idea is that we (and our friends and family) wear these shirts and take pictures in them. It can be local places or it can be far away. It is a way to remember Gabe and also see the many places we KNOW he would have gone if he had the chance. We love seeing people we know and some we don’t spreading his memory and sometimes his story all over the world. As of right now people have taken and shared picture in 42 states, 6 continents, and 32 countries. Recently one of Gabe’s teachers even wore it skydiving! It is so much fun to see it shared.
This year we are going to change the shirt a bit. Just for the year because it is a special year. Gabe would be graduating this year, so we are doing a Gabe’s shirt remix in the colors of Turner Ashby High School. As I’m sure you can imagine this is extremely bittersweet. He should be preparing for his senior year with his friends, thinking about college, senior pictures, and prom (anyone who knew him knows he would already be thinking about prom). He won’t get to do those things, but we can still make a special version of the shirt for this year.
We hope that everyone will continue to wear their shirts- whether they are blue and orange or black, white and gray. Keep sharing pictures and please, keep remembering our boy. He made a huge impact on the world and we want his story to continue on.
If you are interested in purchasing the new version of the shirts please click on the link below: