MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Blount County community continuing to wrap their arms around a grieving family.
Nearly six weeks ago, 8-year old Clark Reagan died after police said his father, James Reagan, shot him before taking his own life.
Days later, hundreds gathered at Faith Promise Church in Maryville remembering and celebrating Clark’s life.
Loved ones say they’re healing and focusing on looking for the silver lining. It’s a message they’re hoping to share with everyone in Blount County and beyond through a tee-shirt.
“We want this to be a physical expression of the words that we’re saying and the things that we’re feeling, which is from terrible tragedy you can find the light in the darkness and you can go be that,” said Michael Grider, 8-year old Clark Reagan’s uncle.
Blue t-shirts with a lightning bug and the phrase “Be the Light” are being made at Pokey’s & Sports in Maryville. Clark’s family saying the word “light” is at the heart of the shirt.
“To know him is to know a smile that this world didn’t deserve and shouldn’t have lost. He lit up a room, he lit up people. He saw the best in everyone and he constantly thought about how to make situations better and he did,” said Grider.
Grider says Clark’s color was blue and his cousins came up with the lightning bug theme.
“Shortly after this tragedy his cousins, including my kids, started to talk about Clarkie bugs. So, these lightning bugs calling them Clarkie bugs, that became a piece of art which he was also really passionate about art.”
From there, the family says they reached out to Pokey’s with their design and so far more than 600 t-shirts have been sold over the last few weeks.
Grider hopes when you see the shirts, “I want them to ask themselves, ‘How can I be the light? What can I do to share the light?’ Because that’s really how Clark challenged all of us. It was to do what he did and to carry his light, that was put out a little too soon, but it wasn’t put out at all. It was multiplied.”
Family says they’re finding light through memories of Clark and through their faith.
“We’re gonna see Clark again. He’s in a better place than we are,” said Grider.
Every penny that’s raised through the sale of these shirts is going to the Clark Riley Scholarship Fund. Each year, a Maryville or Alcoa student pursuing a degree in studio art, architecture or graphic design will receive the scholarship.
If you would like to purchase a ‘Be the Light’ tee-shirt, you can order one by clicking here or call Pokey’s and Sports at (865) 984-4355.