The $89K T-Shirt: Episode 1 - Recovery is Possible

How do you respond to tragedy?
How do you respond when there is a crisis in your life?
How do you rebound in life when “life” happens?

Below is the story of a tragedy that happened to my community and how we rebounded from it.

Welcome to The $89K T-Shirt: 7 Steps to Rebound From Adversity.
Episode 1: Recovery is Possible

It was one of the worst days of my life, March 2, 2012, because on that day I thought I had just killed my boys. Unintentionally, I had put them in the path of an EF-4 tornado. By the grace of God, we didn’t die!

On the anniversary of that day, there are a lot of memories myself and those in my town reflect on. In the video below, I share some of mine.


Below is a lightly edited transcript of the video. If you prefer to watch the video instead, scroll to the tornado picture where today’s story begins.

For those of you old enough, all I have to do is say 911 and I’m sure you remember exactly where you were on that tragic day in our nation’s history.

My name is Tim Maudlin. For myself and those in my community, all I have to say is March 2nd, 2012. Because on that day, we remember when a tornado hit our hometown.

On this anniversary of that day, I’ve been remembering a lot. I remember taking the day off so my wife could go to a women’s retreat. I remember being excited because I was going to spend the day with my boys. I remember waking up and turning the TV on, only to see the Weather Channel anchors in our area because they fully anticipated a tornado outbreak. It wasn’t if, it was when.

I remember thinking back to my childhood in 1974. Because on that day was the first time I’d ever experienced tornadoes. I remember taking my boys to lunch and then coming home. And when we got out of the car, I remember the chill in the air and thinking it wasn’t going to be long.

I remember telling the boys when the sirens go off, we’re going to have to leave. I remember when the warnings were issued, I told the boys it was time to go. We had to get to our safe place. I remember driving a mile and a half from our house to where I am right now, and I remember looking over my shoulder to the blue sky you’re seeing today, looking for that tornado. I remember not seeing it.

I also remember looking more to the west around the corner of the building and there it was! I remember that sinking feeling because I thought I had just killed my boys. I remember taking a quick picture of the tornado before we ran downstairs. I remember waiting and waiting and waiting for the building to be hit.

After several minutes, I remember going outside and hearing sirens everywhere. I remember going home, so I didn’t get it in the way. The first responders were doing amazing work, coming on the scene and helping those who have been impacted. I remember trying to get information, but it was hard to at that time.

I remember going to bed that night feeling helpless because I hadn’t done anything. I hadn’t helped anyone. I remember right before I went to sleep of an idea. And I remember getting up the next day and calling my Dad and telling him what that idea was; an idea that maybe we could help those who had been affected by the tornado.

Over the next days. I would like to share that idea with you and the lessons I learned from it. But on this day, on this anniversary, March 2nd, it’s important to remember those who were impacted, those who had property damage, those who were injured, and sadly, those who were killed.

March 2nd is an important day in our community. A day we’ll never forget. So I hope you’ll share this with your friends and think about those this day. I’ll be back to share some more ideas with you and the lessons I learned.
Thank you.

I want to share how we rebounded from that tragedy. There are different ways to think about the word rebound. I live in Indiana and we’re in “basketball” country. And so we think about rebounding as a basketball term.

But that’s not the rebounding I’m talking about. Rebound also has a negative connotation. Like someone is said, “to be on the rebound.” We don’t want to think of it in that way either.

Rather we want to think about rebounding as it means to recover from a setback.

In this series, I will use the word REBOUND as an acronym. Then take each letter to begin a word to describe how we rebounded from this tragedy.

With the letter R, I want to talk about Recovery is Possible, because I think sometimes when you’re facing difficult times, you need to know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Some people have gone through challenges like these before and they’ve come out on the other end.

As I remember the anniversary of our tornado, there were tornadoes in other areas of the country, specifically Illinois. Those people are going through what we went through five years ago.

I want them and other people to know that recovery is possible. I think it’s important to have hope that you can get through this. The story I’m going to share with you is just a small part that I played in this.

When I went to bed the night of the tornado, I felt helpless because I didn’t know what to do and I hadn’t been helping the people who were injured.

Before I went to sleep I had an idea to design a t-shirt. I talked to my Dad the next day and said, “what if we make a t-shirt and sold them to help those who were hurting and had property damage?”

And that’s exactly what we did. I’m not going to get into all the details about that in this story because this story is about hope. But let me kind of fast forward with a brief overview.

The tornado hit on Friday, March 2, 2012. On Saturday, I had the idea and started to work on the design of the t-shirt. On Sunday, I built a Facebook page.

Now up until this point, I was the only one working on it. But more and more people started getting involved from Sunday on. And by the time we started selling t-shirts the following Tuesday, just a few days after the tornado had hit, we were making $1,000 an hour!

I still can’t believe that was taking place. When all was said and done, with the monies that came in from t-shirt sales and people doing what they could, we ended up with $89,000 from one t-shirt.



Here’s how the money was spent. The Lion’s Club bought gift cards and gave those to the people who were injured and the people who had property damage to help them with their bills and just to help them get by because things were so difficult at that time.

That was just one of the many things that were going on at that time. Just so many people doing different things, but this was only one of the things that were going on.

The cool thing about it was the community came together. And still to this day, you see people wearing this t-shirt. It’s a reminder of how we rebounded from that tragedy.

Daily Doable: If you’re going through a tragedy, know that there is hope, know that recovery is possible.

I just came up with a simple idea. But once that idea was implemented and people started coming on board, some amazing things began to happen with it.

In future stories, I’ll share more details of how we recovered from that tragedy so many years ago.

Next time: REBOUND, the letter E, Everyone Matters.

This is Tim encouraging you to Do what you can, Where you are, With what you have, Now!

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