The message and the idea for the hat came in like a thunderbolt.
It was October 2019 and we had just finished watching Operation Toussiant (an Operation Underground Railroad documentary). The screen went to black and in my head I envisioned a hat with a patch on the front with the words "Find Gardy."
Like many others, I was heartbroken and inspired by the search for Gardy. A couple years earlier, I had become an avid fan of Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. That led me to reading one of Tim's books, Slave Stealers earlier in 2019 which then led me to having Stele sponsor a showing of the movie, Operation Toussaint even before our company was officially open for business.
I wanted to do everything we could to help Tim and O.U.R.'s cause and the vision of this hat wouldn't leave my mind.
A month or so later, I got in contact with the amazing people on the Operation Underground Railroad marketing team and we pitched them the idea of doing this collaboration.
Thankfully they agreed and were excited to get going.
THE MEANING & DESIGN
As Julie began the designs, one of the things she did was read through O.U.R.'s aftercare project, "Not For Sale". She noticed many of the children where drawing starry sky's and mentioning the hope it provided them. Often times the only hope were the stars. This and other similar stories show the small hopes that these children look for.
"Stars in the Night"
Linda says: "The stars represent the hope I held on to while I was trapped in a truck and trafficked across Central America. Stars that ended up being supporters, prayer warriors, social workers, and other girls just like me that I met after my rescue.
During my therapy sessions, I drew the stars that I remembered while I was still trapped in the dark, because it gave me something to look forward to at the end of the darkness. Those stars were the hope I knew was out there, but I didn't know exactly what it was."
Those stars... That hope. We want to give that to every child. We want each of them to know to hold on one more night, we are coming! Find Gardy represents the endeavor to continue to search for that sweet little boy, but it also represents every child out there is someone's son, someone's daughter.
Julie really wanted to somehow incorporate those stars in the design of the hat. So you'll see our navy blue crown and bill, speckled in white dots, represent the stars of the sky. Find Gardy represents the mission.
We had a few other ideas as well, but this one was so powerful, the O.U.R. team jump right on board with it when they saw it.
We hope you will be buy a hat and when someone asks "who is Gardy?" You can answer with pride and help share the message and mission.
We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Tim, Emily, Hillary, and the entire team at Operation Underground Railroad. It was a dream of ours to be able to work together and we are thrilled with how it all came together.
If you haven't already, go to the page, https://stele.co/products/find-gardy-operation-underground-railroad and check out the Gardy video as well as the hat. Each hat directly supports O.U.R. and its missions to save the children. Also check them out at ourrescue.org.