SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash --- “Freeman Strong” t-shirts have been made by several groups to show support and raise money for the community. One high school athletic director is spearheading a shirt movement with Universal Athletic and the orders keep coming in.
“The night of the Freeman incident my superintendent and a board member came over to my house and said, what can we do as a community to help Freeman,” said Lakeside High School athletic director, Jeff Pietz.
Pietz came up with the idea of a t-shirt as a way for their athletic league to show support when they play against Freeman High School.
“People got a hold of it, and started sending it to a lot of people…It’s almost my second job,” said Pietz.
Universal Athletic is located in Spokane Valley and began printing the shirts immediately. The order started as a couple hundred shirt orders, but has turned into 4,000 orders and counting.
“We have gotten orders from various restaurants, businesses, Spokane Police Department, people as far as Tri-Cities and even some people in Idaho,” said Pietz.
Newport High School played Freeman Thursday in girls’ soccer and volleyball. They were the first to be wearing these t-shirts this season.
“That support is important, it’s a good lesson for our kids too. And as everyone knows that it hits close to home when it’s right here in your league,” said Newport HS head girls’ soccer coach, Jeremy Lewis.
The t-shirt orders are being bought up by many schools and others in Washington and the surrounding states.
“One elementary school ordered 400 shirts alone…This is our students and our community which is nearly four hundred, it’s just been an overwhelming amount of support from the whole state of Washington,” said Pietz.
The support is not short lived by any means.
“My spring sports and winter sports have said what we are going to do…It’s what we are doing in January, what we are doing in May to show our support,” said Pietz.
The shirts are supposed to be a lasting reminder of a community that will never be alone.