Selling yellow and blue wristbands with the words “We are one Newtown, 12-14-12” he created helped Newtown Middle School seventh grader Ryan Patrick raise $24,000 to give to the Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children & Families, a program of Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut.
Ryan presented the money to the Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children & Families on Thursday, February 7. He created his wristbands within a day of 12/14. They were ordered on December 15, according to his mother, Barb Patrick.
“He said he wanted to do something,” said Ms Patrick.
Ryan said he wanted his wristbands to be yellow and blue, the high school’s colors, because other wristbands people created at the time were green and white. He also wanted his wristbands to say “We are one Newtown,” because he saw the community coming together, as one.
“I thought at first it would just be people from Newtown wanting to buy them,” said Ryan, but a large number of the wristbands were eventually sold far beyond the town’s borders; some were even sent to Germany.
Ms Patrick said 5,000 wristbands were initially ordered, and those 5,000 were paid for by an anonymous payment from a company in town. The company also covered the extra fee to have them made in America, allowing the wristbands to ship as soon as possible.
The first 5,000 were nearly sold out after one day.
Ms Patrick said she was touched how people far away from town felt for Newtown, and were sharing those feelings with the town. The difference between local residents and those farther away, Ms Patrick said, was the farther away a person was the less they felt they had a way to help.
The wristbands, Ms Patrick said, provided a way for people to help.
They were sold for $3 each, with some people ordering 100 to 500 at a time.
Ms Patrick said Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children & Families was chosen to give the money to, because she and her son feel the organization will provide people with needed counseling and therapy. Ms Patrick said the Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children & Families provides groups, art projects, music, and it caters to the needs of all age ranges for kids. The Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children & Families is also based on donations, Ms Patrick said, and the $25,000 given from the wristbands will specifically be used to help Newtown.
“About 1,000 people of all ages attend Healing Hearts groups and programs each year,” said Joanna DeNicola, a licensed clinical social worker and director of the center. “When a child dies, parents and surviving siblings often feel a sense of isolation that may accompany the grief. At Healing Hearts, support groups connect bereaved parents and children with others dealing with a similar loss.”
The supportive and healing community that Healing Hearts provides can be helpful to those trying to cope with such a painful loss.
“When Ryan decided to support Healing Hearts with this incredibly generous donation, he really made the decision to offer hope and healing to all those impacted by the death of a loved one in Newtown and beyond,” said Ms DeNicola. “His donation will impact the lives of many grieving families, and he also sends the message that the community is here to support you as you travel this difficult path.”
“No matter where we were people want us to know they feel what we do and they want to help in some way even if it is a $3 donation,” said Ms Patrick, about the people who offered to purchase the wristbands.
Ryan said he wanted the money from the wristbands to go to the Healing Hearts Center for Grieving Children & Families to show that he supports what it does and that the money will support counseling services for Newtown into the future.
Ryan also said the process of selling his wristbands has taught him “that everyone wants to help, and they always want to try to do something to show their support.”
Ryan thanked his parents for helping him with his cause, and, “anyone who bought a wristband.”