A Humboldt-based apparel company is providing a big boost to the Humboldt Strong Community Foundation.
Spotlight Sport and Corporate Wear gave the foundation a cheque for $304,239.90 this week — money raised through the sale of thousands of “We Are Humboldt Strong” t-shirts and sweaters in the wake of the Broncos bus tragedy.
They started production of the shirts about 18 hours after the April 6 crash, which left 16 players and staff of the SJHL team dead and injured 13 others.
“The first two or three weeks we had been telling people we were overwhelmed, but really when I think back now it was just chaos,” said Mike Yager, president of Spotlight.
“We couldn’t answer our business line for two solid weeks because it just kept ringing.”
The company chose to sell the shirts for $25 each, with five dollars going towards the cost of production and the other $20 donated to the foundation.
Yager said after media reports of the shirts spread, they started getting orders from around the world — the U.S., England, China, Japan and across mainland Europe.
“It’s absolutely amazing, yet humbling, that people wanted to belong like they did,” he said.
In the first 75 days after the crash, the company produced and sold 12,000 shirts — more than they usually sell in three years of regular business.
In order to keep up with demand, Yager said a call was put out for volunteers to help with production and the collection of materials.
“Amazing support from the business sector both in Humboldt and outside,” he said.
Spotlight is continuing to produce the shirts, and have added sweaters with the same message.
The busy times have meant the staff haven’t been able to take time for themselves to process the community’s tragedy.
“I don’t know if it’s really begun yet,” Yager said.
“However, doing what we did has definitely helped us.”
The company is now in the final stages of talks with the Broncos organization to become the official supplier of team merchandise — from jerseys down to mini sticks and pucks.