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    Blog

    Fandemonium

    The Buffalo Bills family lost a significant piece of our history this weekend. Van Miller, the team's longtime play-by-play announcer, passed away at the age of 87, it was reported Saturday.

    Legend. Heart and soul. Artist. Irreplaceable. Icon.

    Those are just some of the words used by those who either personally knew the man, or were blessed to experience a portion of the handiwork he provided every Sunday afternoon for 37 consecutive seasons.

    When it comes to describing just how special Van Miller was, and what he meant to the team and its fans, I can't do better than what Michael Necci did back in October for Buffalo Wins, so I'm just going to link to his piece on Van. Please consider taking a few minutes to read it; in it, he includes thoughts from Darryl Talley and some personal anecdotes. It's worth your time, I promise.

    I don't know about your family, but the Reids were a "turn the TV down, turn the radio up" household. Like a childhood storybook narrator, Van's was the voice that carried me through my childhood fairy tales. A team in the late 80's and early 90's whose fans EXPECTED it to win every week, it was Van Miller who walked us through all four quarters (and the occasional seatbelt-fastened overtime) to the more-often-than-not happy resolution. Those were my formative years as a young Bills fan, and his voice is forever imprinted on my red, white, and blue heart.

    So, about this shirt.

    We've had this design in the queue for some time. When the news came down about Van's passing, it seemed logical to move it up; however, I wasn't sure if by doing so, it would be considered in poor taste. I took to Twitter and asked people's opinion. The overwhelming majority of replies (literally about 99%) was "do it." I privately asked several people I know who have close connections to the team and every reply I received was "do it."

    So we're going to do it.

    We'll be releasing "Fandemonium" ahead of schedule out of respect for, and in honor of, the legendary Van Miller.

    It's my prayer that everyone understands the reasoning, and doesn't look at this as some kind of opportunistic money grab... Because if you're remotely aware of 26shirts, you know we're not in this to make a buck. We're in it to help people.

    The beneficiary of this design is the WNY chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Nearly every cystic fibrosis drug available today was made possible because of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation support. Through its efforts, the life expectancy of a child with CF has doubled in the last 30 years, and research to find a cure is more promising than ever before.

    What is CF? It's a genetic disease that affects about 70,000 people worldwide. This defective gene causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that makes it difficult for the affected person to breathe and also break down food internally. This means he or she is prone to frequent lung infections and also cannot absorb the vital nutrients contained in the food they eat. It's awful.

    When I first met with Kristin Schneider, the Development Manager of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of WNY, many months ago, she explained to me that those affected (mostly children) often cannot be in support groups with others of the same condition because of the infection risk involved. How terrible! Not being able to find community with those who best understand your struggle (because it's theirs as well) is a cruel reality of this disease. This has stuck with me ever since she told me about it.

    As I often say through the Twitter and Facebook posts of 26shirts, WE WANT TO HELP. And it's because of Van Miller's amazing talent that we're going to be able to do so this time. Check out "Fandemonium," the newest shirt from 26 Shirts.

    What a Weekend

    Welcome to the 26 Shirts blog! It's new, and we're grateful you're taking a few minutes out of your day to read our ramblings. Dan and Del will be posting thoughts on here from time to time regarding what's going on with their efforts to "Change the Game."

    I'm sitting here in a Starbucks in Chicago's Irving Park neighborhood reflecting on what has been an amazing three and a half days. It couldn't have gone better if I'd scripted it. If you care, here's a blow-by-blow account of what we've done.

    We flew in early Friday morning, got settled in at our friend John's apartment and headed straight out to Soldier Field to meet up with Jerome Singletary, a Buffalo expat now in the Windy City. Jerome's great. He helped us out when we were here back in January, and is a selfless dude willing to gladly give up his time and effort for a good cause. He was with us for three days straight! (Appreciate ya, man.) Anyway... after a mishap or two, we managed to get some good shots to use for future website and Facebook ad photos.

    After dinner with some new friends out in Downer's Grove, we hung out with John for a bit and then headed to bed after a long day of traveling and zipping around the Chicagoland area. (Side note: that dinner was at a local chain called Portillo's. Chicago friends, what the heck is up with your hot dogs? They taste great, but man... weird. Don't get mad, it's all love over here.)

    Saturday morning we headed up to the United Center to do a photo shoot for an upcoming Blackhawks tee designed by Alexa Heinrich. It's straight fire emojis if you're a 'Hawks fan... you'll love it. We also managed to to get some great stock photography in place for future ads and tees. A big thank you to Andy Block, Jon Wright, and some random tourists from Kansas for helping us out on that front.

    Dan and I then headed over to check out Taste of Chicago, and later met up with a prospective "boots on the ground" partner here in Chi-Town. As you can imagine, it's not easy running everything from Buffalo and we'd love to have someone in each city that can rep the cause for us, finding families, recruiting artists, and doing media appearances on our behalf. The meeting went so well. SO WELL! We're excited about getting the ball rolling with this new advocate for our efforts. More on her in a later post.

    We then hit up a couple Windy City "Bills Backer" establishments because, well, that's what you do when you're out of town and have some free time on a Saturday night. It was pretty cool, we met up with fellow Western New Yorker @Bojak27 as we toured these two places. Ironically, they're both on the same street! If you're a Bills fan and are ever looking for a place that is cool with you randomly shouting "Hey-ay-ay-ay!" then you definitely need to check out Delilah's and Lincoln Station.

    Sunday, we headed up to Wrigley Field and caught a Cubs game! This was a big deal for me, as I'd never been to a major league ballpark before. We had a blast. Before Dan, Jerome, and I headed in though, we managed to snag a couple fans to model our new shirt for us. This is a lot harder than it sounds. There's a reason why our unisex tee model is on crutches; he wasn't able to run away quickly enough while Dan explained what it was we were trying to do, and that yes, we really just wanted to give him a free shirt if he'd let us photograph him. :)

    We then headed up to the WGN studios to appear on the CLTV SportsFeed show with Josh Frydman and Jarrett Payton. What an awesome opportunity. Both of these guys were super friendly and love what we're doing. The exposure they helped provide has certainly be felt! Dan and I had a blast doing this. If either of you guys are reading this, THANK YOU.

    After that TV appearance, we headed directly out to meet up with Greg Boysen of LetsGoHawks.net. Greg's been a huge help promoting us here in Chicago almost since day one, so it was great to finally meet him and his girlfriend in person. Good people! We're looking forward to collaborating more in the future.

    Which brings us to today. We originally had one more photo shoot scheduled but the weather report called for thunderstorms all day, and seeing as how it seemed that would be the case based on the actual weather this morning, we had to call it off and cancel our plans with the people who'd volunteered. Of course, the sun came out shortly thereafter and it's been beautiful out all day, but it's probably for the best since Dan and I have been able to bang out a ton of work that needed to get done...

    And now we're here, at this Starbucks about to meet with a rep from CBS Sports Radio Chicago.

    It's been a great trip.