The Emerson students who created the highly successful Boston Strong T-shirts to raise money for victims of the Boston Marathon attacks capped their two-month campaign June 11 with a check to The One Fund for $893,940.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino accepted the check on behalf of the fund, which was organized by him and Governor Deval Patrick.
“He just kept saying thank you. He was very grateful,” said Chris Dobens ’16, co-creator of the T-shirts.
A few hours later, a large group of Bostonians wearing the blue and yellow T-shirts arrived in Copley Square—just a few yards from the blast site—to participate in a photo shoot to commemorate the success of the operation, which began with the Emerson students trying to sell 110 T-shirts for The One Fund. More than 59,000 have been sold.
Nicholas Reynolds ’14, a T-shirt co-creator, said he is touched by how widely the shirts have been received, even from those most affected by the tragedy.
“Mery Daniel, who lost a leg in the explosion… wouldn’t do interviews or take pictures without wearing the shirt, which was amazing to hear,” Reynolds said.
With rain looming, about 50 people stopped by the memorial to the Marathon victims for photographs and to thank Dobens and Reynolds, who created the Boston Strong shirts in their Little Building dormitory within hours of the April 15 attacks.
“It’s another way to create community … and bring us back to that place where we were eight weeks ago,” said Lane Brenner ’13, who oversaw publicity and social media for the T-shirts. “Boston Strong is forever and we want to remind everybody of that.”
People from around the world have been uploading photos of themselves wearing the T-shirts on the Boston Strong Facebook page.
“When a tragedy like this happened, I knew Emerson students would find a call to action, and we did,” said Dylan Manderlink ’14, who attended the event. “It was started by college students, and that’s what’s really remarkable about it. It wasn’t a big company, it was us.”
The One Fund is expected to start providing money to victims on June 30. The fund has nearly $46 million so far.
“We wanted to get this donation in, so the victims could have it at disbursement at the end of the month,” Reynolds said. “We’re closing down phase one right now. We’re looking at what phase two looks like.”
Reynolds and Dobens are exploring the possibility of publishing a commemorative Boston Strong book, or to continue selling T-shirts.
“This is something that I would love to keep doing,” Dobens said. “If selling T-shirts is what we’ve got to do to help out, then I’ll keep on selling T-shirts.”