When is a T-shirt more than a T-shirt? When it builds awareness for a special cause. That’s the role specially designed T-shirts play each year at an annual softball game to raise awareness for The Asher James Heart Disease & Thrombosis Foundation. Jennifer DeBouver founded the foundation, which raises awareness about blood clots in small children, after losing a baby girl before childbirth, and then losing a boy, Asher, six weeks after he was born due to a congenital heart disease called Aortic Stenosis. “After he passed away, the doctor told us there weren’t any foundations or much research to support blood clots in children,” DeBouver says.
Since Asher passed away in October of 2012, DeBouver has partnered with Mended Little Hearts, an organization that supports families with children with congenital heart defects, and has held an annual softball game between the two organizations on Asher’s birthday.
Prior to his birth, Asher had had a baseball-themed baby shower which inspired DeBouver to hold the softball game in his honor. Working with a distributor partner, DeBouver created the theme, “Lions, Giraffes, Softballs, Oh My!” and tested three different designs for the event’s T-shirts on Facebook. All three designs included two little birds to represent the children DeBouver had lost. The Mended Hearts’ T-shirt featured a lion, and the Asher James Foundation shirts featured a giraffe, which DeBouver has always associated with her son.
The winning design was featured on the T-shirt at the softball game (held in October at a park in Schaumburg, IL), and DeBouver said they were a big hit. The event raised hundreds of dollars for DeBouver’s foundation, and, most importantly, continues to raise awareness for the cause. “If this little T-shirt can make one person aware of our foundation, I’ve done my job,” DeBouver says.