UPDATE: 4,000 "Bobcat Strong" t-shirts printed in memory of 4 te - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: 4,000 "Bobcat Strong" t-shirts printed in memory of 4 teens

Posted: Updated:

A Dubuque company says its presses have been running non-stop to keep up with the demand for the "Bobcat Strong" t-shirts, which are being made in memory of the four teenagers killed in a crash on Saturday.

Envision Tees has printed 4,000 shirts and believes it has raised about $25,000 so far. Orders have come from as far away as Florida and California.


A Dubuque t-shirt company designed and is selling special memorial t-shirts.

All of the profits from the shirts, which cost $10 each, will be divided equally between the families of the four boys who died in a tragic crash Saturday afternoon.

According to the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office, 24-year-old Joe Connolly was heading south on Hartbecke Road in Dubuque County, driving a diesel pickup truck hauling a horse trailer, when he failed to stop at the East Pleasant Grove Road intersection's stop sign.

He then hit a Gator UTV, which was carrying four 14-year-old boys and traveling east on East Pleasant Grove Road. All four of the boys died, and Connolly's two passengers were injured. One of the horses in the trailer also died.

The boys were Bryce Wilwert, Sean Kenneally, Nicholas Kramer and Mitchell Kluesner.

Even though the boys were from Dyersville, Peosta and Epworth, people all throughout Dubuque County are coming together and facing this tragedy as one large community.

Tom Rauen owns Envision Tees in Dubuque. When he heard about the boys' tragic death, he knew he had to do something.

"I was at a loss for words and didn't know what to think," Rauen said.

The four boys would have been freshmen this fall at Rauen's alma mater, Western Dubuque High School.

Rauen knew the entire community would be affected by this tragedy, so he sat down to design a t-shirt at the suggestion of some community members.

"It's hard to come up with something to really get a handle on your feelings and emotions with something like this," Rauen said. "I think a t-shirt speaks louder than what you can actually say and shows that community support."

The shirt he designed says "Bobcat Strong," a reference to Western Dubuque High School's mascot. The bobcat logo on the front is shedding a single tear. On the back of the shirt are the four boys' initials, plus their silhouettes holding hands with the Bobcat mascot.

Rauen said it was one of the hardest designs he's ever had to do.

His busy shop area was filled Wednesday with volunteers who simply showed up at Envision Tees, eager to help fold and sort the shirts.

Gloria Greenwood, a Western Dubuque High School graduate, grew up in Farley and now lives in Urbandale. She was back in the area Wednesday and decided to drop by Envision Tees to help.

"It's a close-knit community, people really are called to serve one another," Greenwood said. "They help one another, they come together when times are tough, and that's what they're doing now."

In the store at the front of the business, there was a line all day long as people streamed in to show their support.

Livy Ploessl from Holy Cross was at the store twice on Wednesday.

"We were here this morning at 8:30 and were told to come back at noon," she said, "and came at 11:45 and still had to wait."

However, she said, she didn't mind.

"Being here today, whether it takes waiting in line or whatever, just feels like the least we can do, I guess, when you're not really sure what to do," Ploessl said. "This is one way we can feel involved."

"Everyone wants to do the right thing and offer their support during hard times," Rauen said. "It's not always an easy thing, so we go on and do what we can, really."

Envision Tees sold some 3,000 shirts Wednesday and ran out before the store closed at 5:30 p.m. An employee said more shirts are on the way, however, and will be available when the store re-opens Thursday at 8 a.m.

People who live further away can order Bobcat Strong shirts online HERE. Rauen asks anybody who lives within driving distance to come buy their shirt at the store, to help with distribution.

Online store: http://tshirtwebstore.com/collections/bobcatstrong

Powered by Frankly