Since Austin's passing, hemp bracelets have been synonomous with Austin. I get asked why. Here is the story.
It began about 10 years ago when my friend Kim Butler lost her beautiful, outrageous and adventurous 19 year old son Gordon Butler to a drinking and driving accident m.facebook.com/groups/18243114336
Gordie was a diabetic most of his young life. A couple of years after Gordie passed, Kim had some rubber bracelets made for a walk for Diabetes Fundraiser. It was an orange bracelet to support awareness and to remember Gordie. Austin and I took part in the Walk.
Kim had hundreds of these bracelets left over and when she would come over to our house she would give handfuls to our boys Kurt and Austin. Austin in particular was a fan of the bracelets. He wore them all the time, even though he really didn't know Gordie in life, having been several years younger than Gordie.
One day in about 2012, I randomly asked Austin why he always wore Gordie's orange bracelet. After all, he really didn't have any association with Gordie except that his mom was a good friend of mine. Austin's reply to me however was not what I expected. He said "Mom, I wear it to remind myself to stay safe." Austin's dad and I knew our son was a risk taker and was very adventurous, so when he said this, I was very proud of him to wear it for a reason - and a very good reason at that.
Fast forward to April 2013 - the month that Austin passed away from an accidental drug poisoning. At the funeral, Austin's girl friends got together and made hemp bracelets using the chinese ladder pattern. They gave everyone at the funeral a bracelet to remember Austin. This was so touching and it was a constructive way for his friends to get together and mourn his death.
I thought this was too coincidental however that again, bracelets would come up relating to Austin and his life.
In the Fall of 2013, I began doing public speaking about Harm Reduction and Overdose Awareness. This is about the time I also started my site www.skateforaustin.com (Save Kids Abusing Through Education). At this time I also started presenting Austin's story to high school students in schools, service clubs, churches, etc. I wanted to leave something behind as a reminder for the teens and I myself began making hemp bracelets. At the end of my talk I would then give the teens a bracelet to wear, carry in their pocket or just leave in their bedroom as a reminder of Austin - and most importantly - to be safe.
Today, myself and a wonderful young woman and friend of Austin's, Signey Schmidt, still make bracelets in our free time. Thank you Signey for continuing to support my cause - but most importantly, for remembering Austin and helping to make a difference in the world.
I am a wife, daughter, friend, harm reduction advocate and mother to two amazing sons. My oldest is a true inspiration in determination and perseverance, and my youngest is in heaven.