Helping in a Tragedy

It was a summer day just like any other, as devoted Texas mom Mendy Williams, husband Patrick, son Preston and two friends traveled to the local baseball diamond to enjoy the boys’ All-Star game.

But then tragedy struck. A drunk driver, fleeing the scene of a separate hit-and-run accident, broadsided the car, injuring Preston and killing Mendy. In this close-knit community 20 miles south of the Oklahoma-Texas line, her death was devastating. She had always been a loyal attendee at her son’s baseball games, cheering the players on with her signature line of encouragement:“You got this!”

Just a couple days after her death, Larry Young, the pastor at Williams’ church, approached Print Works in nearby Paris, TX, with a vision for a T-shirt to raise money for Williams’ family, who unfortunately did not have medical insurance.“He wanted to take black T-shirts, and print them in turquoise and white, her favorite colors,” says Stephen Terrell, owner and general manager.“We had a brainstorming session, and decided to add ‘You got this!’ and a cross, and we planned to ask people to wear them to her funeral.”

Young then called Williams’ husband Patrick from the Print Works conference room to tell them about their plans.“This was only about two days after the accident,” says Taylor Martin, assistant general manager.“It was very emotional.” With Patrick’s permission, Martin obtained a check stub with Mendy’s signature and converted it into a graphic file to be printed on each shirt.

Over just two days, Print Works printed 2,500 shirts for attendees to wear at the funeral at the local civic center.“It was the biggest challenge in our four years in business,” says Terrell.“We told our staff that no one was obligated to stay. But in two straight days of printing, no one left.” All of the shirts were sold, and a portion of the proceeds went directly to the family’s medical costs. The shirts raised an impressive $13,000. A local news station even stopped by the shop to cover the work, showing viewers the last of the 2,500 shirts being printed. Print Works also embellished caps and tote bags with the same logo, and sold them through an e-commerce store.“We wanted the items to be something they would continue to wear and use after the funeral, to remember her,” says Martin.“Her signature was the final touch. That really made it her shirt.” – Sara Lavenduski