What 26 Shirts Means To Me - Guest Post from Josiah LeRoy
I first met Del Reid in early 2017.
I had been a fan of 26 Shirts since its inception a few years earlier and always adored what Del and the crew did. The Bills Mafia guy, making fun t-shirts, and raising a good deal of money every two weeks for charity and those who need it the most. What a concept. I was upset I didn’t think of it first!
Having followed the famous Del Reid on Twitter (he has the blue check mark, he is famous!), I always enjoyed seeing what he had to say about 26, about the Bills, and about more personal things like faith and family.
My company, The Geekiverse, was a sponsor of Buffalo Soup Fest in early 2017. While at our booth, my partner walked over to me and said “Did you know 26 Shirts is here? Del Reid wants to meet you.” Admittedly, I was pretty giddy. I walked over to the 26 table, introduced myself, and Del warmly said “I’m a big fan of your Star Wars coverage.” Are you kidding me?
If you weren’t aware, The Geekiverse is pop culture media company that produces videos and podcasts focused on gaming, movies, and of course, Star Wars. If Del didn’t already have a fan for life, he sure did after that. Just when you think you can’t respect someone more, they reveal they’re actually a big geek. (He has often told me first and foremost, he’s really a Marvel and Star Wars guy, but the Bills content was more popular. Funny how that works, right?!).
After meeting up a few more times over the following Summer for a few meals and beverages, we partnered up and got to be just a small slice of the new-at-the-time Fanteestic brand, a line of 26 Shirts focused on pop culture. A few years past that, we regrouped again but this time, to partner with my bank, BankOnBuffalo. BankOnBuffalo shares something in common with 26 Shirts: A deep love and passion for community. That means strengthening our local communities in WNY, looking out for those who really need us, and being a beacon of light and optimism wherever we can be. I mean look, we just went through nearly two decades of “The Drought.” If that isn’t optimism, I don’t know what is.
I am the proud owner of close to 30 different 26 Shirts releases. I proudly wear my New Era 26 Flat Brim whenever I’m out of town. I tell everyone who will listen to me about how cool the shirts are, how amazing the company is, and how big the hearts of its employees are.
Still not sold? Here’s one more reason. My Aunt Sue has been battling cancer for a number of years now. She has undergone session after session of chemo and had countless battles along the way that many people who face such an illness must endure. On the Monday morning of a new campaign for a shirt called “Winter Smile,” I received loads of texts and tags on social media from friends who saw this new design. Who was featured as “The Need” for this campaign? None other than my Aunt Sue. The ironic part is I never submitted her as a beneficiary or spoke to 26 Shirts about her, someone else did. But when I saw that a company I love so much and have supported throughout the years was now helping MY family directly? I couldn’t help but smile myself.
There were some tears in there too.
It was the first time I got to see “this side of the fence” per-se, seeing how 26 could directly help my own family. I saw my Aunt not long after the shirt went live. I gave her a hug, told her how much she inspired me, and that I had a great feeling that the campaign was doing well in terms of shirts sold over the two
weeks. It turns out that feeling was right, and my aunt told me how much money had been raised after the fact. What a blessing.
So to try to put into words what 26 Shirts means to me is difficult, even for a guy like me who is never short on words. But when you can almost find a way to quantify passion and caring and support, you must be on to something big. And who would’ve thought – selling t-shirts?! That’s just the thing: Del always says that they’re a company committed to helping those in need who just happens to sell shirts.
“Do good.” What a concept.