Two Emerson College students who helped raise nearly $1 million for the One Fund through T-shirt sales are trying to rally supporters who have the apparel to be part of “the largest Boston Strong” photo shoot in the city.
Nicholas Reynolds, a visual and media arts major, and his close friend, Chris Dobens, a marketing communications major, launched a fundraiser for the victims of the marathon bombing within hours of the attack on Boylston Street. To date, the duo was able to raise more than $800,000 through the sale of the blue T-shirts with yellow text that simply says “Boston Strong.”
On Monday, Reynolds said they closed out sales for the shirts and are planning to hand over a check to the One Fund, the account set up to support the marathon victims, but they wanted to do something more for the momentous occasion. “We are hoping to get a bunch of people together for a big picture and reflection in Copley Square. We would love everyone to wear the shirts to the event,” says Reynolds.
At 6 p.m., on June 11, supporters are encouraged to head down to the site of the attack wearing any shirt or article of clothing that has the now-famous phrase printed on it. After the photos are taken, which Reynolds hopes will draw the biggest crowd to date, people are asked to stick around and reflect at the memorial set up just across the street.
Reynolds says he and Dobens decided to try and organize the photo shoot based on the amount of photos that came pouring in after they first launched “Boston Strong” T-shirt sales in April. As they began shipping out the shirts to thousands of people all over the country, they started to ask them to take a picture of themselves wearing it and email it back. After getting numerous submissions, they created Facebook album compiled with customers showing their support for the city. Now, they hope to get as many of those people together in one place. “We just wanted to give everyone a way to celebrate the community spirit together. We wanted to do one big picture, and see how many people will show up,” he says.
A fellow Emerson student will be in charge of taking the photo once everyone arrives on Tuesday night.
Reynolds and Dobens are credited with coining the “Boston Strong” phrase, which went on to be used by countless numbers of people, including celebrities, commencement speakers, and elected officials, and became the defining term for those showing support for the victims and their families during the initial recovery phase. According to Emerson College officials, it has been rebranded on wristbands, hats, and other apparel sold by numerous outlets across the country, and it all started on the school’s campus.
Reynolds says they came up with the phrase based on the “Live Strong,” and “Army Strong” mottos. “We just wanted something really simple, but we wanted something specific to the marathon, and that was also the [Boston Athletic Association] colors, but not so specific that people who just live in Boston would wear it,” he says.
Reynolds and Dobens sold the shirts for $20 each, giving $15 to the One Fund for each item sold, and putting $5 toward the expenses to create the shirts.
Reynolds says he will be wearing his shirt all day Tuesday and hopes others will do the same, even before the planned photo opportunity in Copley Square. “There is so much stuff happening in the world, but this is the city of Boston, and it’s important for us to remember the victims. For us, it’s kind of a way to keep the focus on what’s right in our backyard,” says Reynolds.
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