Be Who U Are
When Daniel was born in 1996, he seemed to be just like every other happy baby. As time passed, we realized that Daniel was not developing as he should, so we began the process of diagnosis. At the age of three he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, a high functioning form of Autism. Although it was a shock and disappointing, we quickly adapted and decided to raise Daniel just like any other child as much as possible. Despite his differences, we, his family, have learned that his uniqueness is quite unparalleled, and he wouldn’t be Daniel without it. He currently attends a public middle school with minimal aid and is active in Karate and Boy Scouts. We continue to work hard at making him adapt to the outside world as much as possible.
Many children with Autism have “that one thing” that they spend a lot of time doing. For Daniel, it is movies, but, he also loves to draw and film characters. One day we came across a collection of animals he had drawn that we felt were just as fun, funny, and unique as he is. We had them lying around and a friend of the family commented after seeing the frog “I wish I had this on a shirt” and thus the idea was born.
Eventually, we came up with the idea to add sayings to the shirts that expresses to all how special and unique everyone is despite disabilities, disease, or differences, and how that should be embraced fully. In a society where youths feel an overwhelming need to “be accepted” and “fit in”, we felt this was a great way to spread the positive message of just being yourself. In addition, we decided that we would “turn lemons into lemonade” and donate a portion of the profits to autism related charities. Although our goal is to donate ten percent of gross profits, we have exceeded that and are proud that the shirts have helped out other autistic children.
We began by producing four designs and two hundred shirts, just to see what would happen. We quickly sold out and ordered more. The orders soon became too large for our initial T-shirt supplier, and we had to move our orders to a larger operation. Schools and special needs groups began to sell the shirts as fundraisers, and were very successful. We knew at that point, it was something that people were really excited about, and that helping organizations raise money would bring us an even greater reward. We had a website designed, and began taking orders from the internet. The word seems to be spreading, and we are filling orders almost everyday. Areas of our house seem to be taken over with shirt inventory, and we now have eight designs.
All types of kids and adults, from all types of backgrounds have fallen in love with the shirts. From Pre-K to High School kids, not to mention teachers, coaches, parents and grandparents; people feel good about the shirts and the very positive message. They also love the fact that the shirts are helping the community.
Our goal is simple. We would like to involve Daniel in the many aspects of this business and to help other families that have been impacted by all types of childhood diseases and disorders. Since its beginning, the business has become not only a learning experience for Daniel, but also for the whole family. Daniel’s siblings, Gracie, 14, and Ellie, 8, have been involved in every aspect of the business from sorting and counting shirts, to working booths at schools and fairs, to creating new product ideas. Many of our other family members and friends have been involved as well.
Related: Autism’s Affect On Siblings
Daniel has become quite the celebrity in our hometown as well, signing shirts, visiting classrooms, and acting (hopefully!) as a positive role model to all children he comes in contact with. We feel it is such a great message to have a child with special needs who is able to give back to the community in such a positive way. We are so proud that our son is making such a difference.
The business has been responsible for numerous donations to various school systems, charities, and special needs groups all over Georgia. We continue to reach out to organizations in need, and hope that as our business grows, we can help more and more people raise funds AND awareness. In addition, we have a “b-who-u-r Person of the Month” on our web site, which is a place were we can recognize those around us that contribute in a special way to kids.
We are very proud of this effort and what it has become. We hope that our message of acceptance will be an inspiration to others across the country and, maybe, even the world.
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