...a 24 year old that was recently named one of Canada's 2015 Down Syndrome Heroes. Andrew was born with Down Syndrome and has been challenged with many of the associated health issues. But that does not stop Andrew!
Together with his mom Karen Pickle, Andrew founded Group Hug Apparel, originally a t-shirt company featuring his hand drawn designs. His goal was to raise a little money so that he could go to college. His "little" company has grown in the last seven years to include totes, aprons, hoodies and baby onesies.
Andrew has also used his company as a way to give back. He donates a portion of his sales from various community festivals and events to a number of local charities. To date, Andrew has donated over $35,000 to such charities as W.E. Care For Kids, the Children’s Health Foundation at the London Sick Kids Hospital and many more.
Andrew spends a good part of his spare time working on his "Andrew's Helping Sick Kids One T-shirt At A Time Campaign" where he sends new teddy bears and Group Hug Apparel t-shirts (or onesies depending upon how tiny his recipient is!) to kids around the world who are sick in the hospital or going through treatment for an illness. Andrew sends his love and support in a personal letter with each package to keep them brave and strong. Say it together "Awe...!"
He also asks others to pay it forward every year for his birthday with his #bethereasonsomeonesmilesday. He sends out a request to all friends and family to celebrate his birthday with a random act of kindness for the day.
And the sweetness doesn't stop there!
Andrew is always looking for the perfect shade of pink polish for his girlfriend...
...so he decided to partner with me to create a custom shade inspired by her.
I am extremely proud to introduce our collaboration…Julia. A bright bubble gum, hot neon pink shimmery polish with light microglitter, silver flakes and a smidge of holographic sparkle. Super girly!
$3.00 from the sale of each bottle will go toward Andrew's Helping Sick Kids One T-Shirt At A Time Campaign.
Orders containing Julia will be shipped beginning the week of June 22nd.
Check out this behind the scene shot of Andrew helping to create the first batch of Julia. If Andrew had more time on his hands I'd be hiring him! (You can see more pictures of our day HERE!)
What about college you ask? Did Andrew go?
YES HE DID! He proudly graduated from the St. Clair College Life Skills Program in June of 2014.
There is so much more that I could share about this awesome young man! I feel like I have barely touched on all of the great things he has accomplished! Take a moment and check out a short documentary on Andrew's story HERE.
P.S. If you are local to Kingsville, Ontario Canada there is a celebration dinner being planned in Andrew's honour for Friday, June 19th starting at 5pm atColasanti's Tropical Gardens. Tickets can be purchased online HERE on the Group Hug Apparel site or locally at Beachcomber Hot Tubs Kingsville (149 Lansdowne Ave. Kingsville, ON 519-733-8826) or at ShopEco (378 Devonshire Rd. Windsor, ON 519-256-0220)
Don't live in or around Kingsville but still want to donate? Donations can be made in $20 increments by purchasing an event ticket on the Group Hug Apparel site. Please add the note DONATION ONLY upon checkout. For donations in other denominations, please contact Karen (Andrew's mom) directly.