Updated: Oct 19, 2018
I wanted my first Blog Post to introduce you to the idea behind the creation of this site, the Scholarship, and our Store. Later we intend for this Blog to be an outlet for each of us to share our story, our grief, and what has and has not been helpful for our family as well as each of us individually.
First things first, if you are just being introduced to our family let me tell you a little bit about us. I am Alis Stewart, the wife of Will and mother of Hayden, Lushon, and Whitley Toy Stewart. We live in a very small rural farm community in Northwestern Oklahoma. On October 14, 2017, we suffered the loss of our oldest son Hayden to a self-inflicted gun shot wound. He was one of the three most beautiful souls that God ever created, in my very biased opinion. But as I stated above I will slowly get to how our story has unfolded and how our family has coped thus far.
While our family was making arrangements for our son's funeral a close family friend suggested for us to set up a scholarship fund in Hayden's honor, and the Hayden Stewart Memorial Scholarship Fund was born... Donations from our families, friends, and strangers from all over the country began to filter in. We were so grateful and overwhelmed by the outpour of generosity that so many had shown to Hayden. But to be able to sustain the Scholarship for many years to come and continue to contribute to our community would take fundraising. So over the last year periodically we have brainstormed ideas of unique ways to keep Hayden's memory alive through this Scholarship Fund, but as you can imagine when you are dealing with a loss of this magnitude sometimes all you can accomplish in a day is to just breathe.
Days turned into weeks, weeks to months, and months have turned into a year today. The thought of what and where I was going with this Scholarship Fund was looming over me. I was waiting for an epiphany, an Ah-Hah moment and it finally came. Very early on my brother had mentioned in passing that selling apparel in his honor would be super cool. I liked the idea, but had no creative vision about where to start or what I would want to represent my son. Then one day while I was lying around in Hayden's sweatpants and one of his old tattered t-shirts, you know the yummy ones you need throw away but can't bring yourself to, I thought how lucky I was to be able to snuggle up in his things. I wanted to give everyone that comfort that knew and loved him or knew his story and had shown support for his cause in that moment. But how was I going to do that without giving his things away? Those are my treasures! I am selfish. I can't do that! Then it came to me... I am going to make quality things that represent him and his story for others to wear. And like that the Store was born...
As I began thinking about launching a website to sell this merchandise I also starting thinking about all of the other purposes it needed to serve. Things like resources to help teens that are facing overwhelming circumstances, parents who are trying to help their children navigate those circumstances, to help parents and siblings who are grieving the loss of their loved one, and selfishly to help our family continue to process our loss and move forward. So like that the website was born...
After weeks of work designing the apparel, hats, and accessories I started building this site. It has been a labor of love and dedication. Will and I have donated all of the seed money to launch this store and website with the dream that it will be the vehicle to sustain the good work we have already been able to accomplish in Hayden's honor. One hundred percent of the proceeds from merchandise sold will go directly to the Hayden Stewart Memorial Scholarship Fund. I will be posting again in the next few days about the merchandise and the vision that created each item.
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read this post and any support you send our way! Please don't forget to subscribe and stay up to date on future merchandise and products!