Sad story behind 'heartbreaking' casket photos: 'Something special'

·News Reporter
·3-min read

When Trey Ganem first heard of the Texas school shooting, he knew he wanted to help, so he offered his time and his expertise to grieving parents who'd recently lost their children.

As a custom casket-maker who lives in Texas himself, Mr Ganem decided to donate unique, hand-painted caskets for the funerals of the 19 children who were shot and killed in Uvalde, "something no family should ever have to deal with," he said on Facebook following the massacre.

The first two funerals were held on Tuesday for two 10-year-old girls, Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Rodriguez, according to reports.

 A bright yellow and a Superman casket for victims school shooting
Trey Ganem creates custom caskets, including those for children. Source: Facebook

Mr Ganem, who owns SoulShine Industries, along with his son and a handful of volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure each of them had a personalised casket, which reportedly cost up to US$3,800 ($5300).

For a small town like Uvalde, smaller caskets are rarely stocked in bulk, and there wasn't enough for all the victims, BuzzFeed News reported.

So Mr Ganem ordered them from another state and worked through the night with his son Billy, 25, to deliver the caskets on time.

Family's final act: 'Passion and purpose'

Mr Ganem said he met with all the families following the mass shooting to get a sense of what their child likes, noting that all children are unique in their own ways.

Trey Ganem from custom casket company SoulShine Industries, right, with a custom casket for a child killed in the Uvalde school shooting.
Trey Ganem owns custom casket company SoulShine Industries and offered to help following the mass shooting. Source: Facebook

"I’m on my way to help families in this tragic time," Mr Ganem wrote on Facebook. "My love and emotions are already there."

"They tell me about their loved one, and they tell me special specific things, and they light up when they’re talking to me,” Mr Ganem told KTSM News.

"We’re creating the last thing that the parents can ever do for their child. And we’re making it with passion and purpose. We put all of our heart and soul into this thing."

Some of the unique designs they've put together include Pokemon, superheroes and princess-inspired graphics, while others are a little more custom.

"There was one that wanted dinosaurs, with flashlights, holding a pickle," Mr Ganem said.

Mr Ganem's son Billy, 25 said their aim is to "make a hard time a little easier".

"There’s nothing we can really ever do to make it easier, but that’s our goal: to help the families ... start their grieving and their healing and just try to make something special for them," he told BuzzFeed.

Mr Ganem spoke to the victim's families to get an idea of who the children were and what they liked. Source: Facebook
Mr Ganem spoke to the victim's families to get an idea of who the children were and what they liked. Source: Facebook

'Your heart and generosity are above words'

Mr Ganem's heartwarming gesture has garnered thousands of responses online with people touched by the selfless act.

"God bless you. Your heart and generosity are above words. This Spider-Man one literally brought me to tears," one said on Instagram.

"The good of humanity always shows itself, it reveals itself. Thank you for your goodness, Trey. My heart breaks," said another on Facebook.

Others said the gesture is both "wonderful" and "heartbreaking".

"I know this will be by far the hardest heart-wrenching gift you have ever had to be a part of giving. Thank you for your love and compassion for Uvalde," wrote a third.

The family company ended up donating 19 caskets for Uvalde victims, 18 of the 19 children and one adult.

"It has been an extremely emotional roller coaster for me," Mr Ganem said.

Other local businesses have also chipped in to help, including a florist at The Flower Patch who donated "thousands" of arrangements which each took about 45 minutes to make.

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