Chelsea told us about the adventures and symbolism sewn into the firefighter themed t-shirt blanket she had made for her husband,
“From the time he was a young boy, my husband wanted to be a firefighter. After finishing college, moving to Arizona and working as an EMT, the Mesa Fire Department hired him in 2007 and the firefighter t-shirt collection began! He originally started off with just a few from Mesa. It didn't take long, however, for my immediate family to start building on the collection”
Often shirts are sold as a way to raise funds for different departments and families of men and women who have given their lives for their duty as a hero. Chelsea’s family and friends made it a mission to get a hold of firefighter shirts whenever they could.
When my sisters took a trip to Hawaii, they picked up a firefighter shirt. When my parents traveled to Israel, they picked up a shirt. Each family member sent shirts from the cities they were living: Portland, OR, Winfield, KS, Chicago, IL, Santa Monica, CA and Denver, CO. The consolation gift for my dad and brother missing the birth of our first son was firefighter's shirt from the Czech Republic. We would have to say this one, the gray one in the center of the blanket, was the hardest to collect. It came home with my dad, brother and sister's boyfriend when they took a trip to Eastern Europe. They found out quickly in the Czech Republic that despite fluent Polish, the term 'firefighter' was lost in translation. They asked several people in the city to point them to a fire station, but no one understood. When someone finally did, they were taken into a large court yard and left alone for awhile until finally, a very large gentleman came out to greet them in broken English. Eventually they were able to communicate their request for an authentic department shirt and the firefighter was more than happy to oblige. He was excited to speak to Americans and interested in their mission. Even half-way across the globe the brotherhood was alive and well.
With all of these contribution my husband had eventually amassed a collection of over 50 firefighter shirts from around the globe. He kept this incredibly bulky collection in our bottom dresser drawer. He didn't wear most of them and didn't display any of them, as meaningful as they were.
Though it took about 4 months to convince my husband to let his shirts be made into a blanket, and an equally taxing 4 hours to force him to sit down and select the shirts to be included in the blanket, he finally relinquished his control on the bottom drawer, and off the shirts went! The blanket is perfect and even has two designs patched together to ensure that both my husband's name and his department logo appeared in one square. During 24 hour shifts the blanket keeps him warm and comfortable”
Chelsea and her husband’s blanket has helped them to see the importance of the brotherhood of firefighters and they would like to leave Project Repat’s supporters with some of this message,
“All of these adventures have shown us that firefighters truly view each other as part of a brotherhood. Every man and woman in the fire service will attest to this fact. You eat, sleep and risk your life with one another. To this effect I ask for support for the fallen Yarnell firefighters. Even though my husband is in the Phoenix area, the Yarnell Hot Shot crew was family. Their families are our family. It is heartbreaking to think about what the children and spouses of these men are coping with. To make a donation to the 100 Club's Survivor Fund in memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, click here.