EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 9, 2013

From clothes to cash

Firefighter sells shirts to raise moneyfor Boston Marathon bombing victims

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — A local firefighter decided to get into the apparel business.

It was not to make any money on the side, but instead out of the desire to join with his fellow first responders in providing financial help to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

This summer, Haverhill firefighter Tim Sullivan, who lives in Methuen, designed and had made a Haverhill Firefighter/Boston Strong T-shirt to wear while training for the marathon. The minimum order was a dozen. When the first batch arrived, he showed them to his fellow firefighters at the High Street station and they bought them. Since then, he’s raised about $1,500 from the sale of his shirts.

Sullivan said those and future proceeds will go to The Boston First Responders Fund, which was established by Boston’s first responders to benefit the bombing victims.

“The are very popular and at $25 each we’ve raised about $1,500 so far and I’ve only been doing this for a few months,” Sullivan said.

It all started in August, when Sullivan was making plans to run in next year’s Boston Marathon and simply wanted to have a special T-shirt to wear in honor of this annual event.

“I just wanted a shirt to run the marathon and to defy the hate that shut down an entire city,” he said.

He ordered his first batch of shirts from a company in Lowell and sold all but the one he kept for himself.

“Now I’m ordering 50 shirts a week and I’m trying to keep up,” said Sullivan, who juggles family life and work.

His shirts are available in white, silver, dark gray and black.

“The best selling color seems to be dark gray lately,” he said about the shirts he’s been selling by word of mouth and on Facebook.

“It began with the guys on the department, then family, then friends began ordering shirts,” he said. “It’s something that’s pure and good. Whatever the proceeds are, it’s all going to the right place.”

“It’s been all about the marathon,” Sullivan said. “I have three boys, ages 10, 7, and almost 2, and I think of what would have happened if I was there with my children. It really hits home.”

He said his project began as a desire to do some good and to show his children that hate doesn’t define us.

“I thought I’d try to run a marathon for the kids, and they started talking about it,” he said about the enthusiastic response he received from his three sons.

“This has been all about making a positive statement,” he said.

Sullivan said he is also getting help from Trinity EMS employee Mike Clohisy, who has been spreading the word about his fundraiser to his fellow employees and others.

“He walked into the High Street station one day wearing one of my T-shirts,” Sullivan said.

“Most of the money is going to the One Fund, yet this fund represents something to me,” Sullivan said about the First Responders Fund. “It’s what our people did. Our people who see life and death in their work.”

Prior to this summer, Sullivan kept fit but never tried long-distance running.

The longest route he’s taken this year is from his house in Methuen to Toby Avenue in Haverhill, a total of 13.1 miles. He wears his T-shirt on every training run.

“I have to pick up more shirts and now I’ve added sweatshirts and I plan to have a winter hat with the logo as well,” he said. “I asked for winter hat samples, which will be made of material that is similar to the running shirts.”

“I’m even shipping some shirts to South Carolina,” he said. “They’re starting to go out of state and I’m trying to keep track with a spreadsheet.”

He said he informed officials with the Boston First Responders Fund, which was established in conjunction with the Boston One fund.

“The symbolic nature of the fund to me was a huge draw for my product for people to grab onto,” he said.

“I hope to be able to cut them a big check on the first anniversary (of the bombings) next April,” he said.

The only snag in his plan is that he tried to register for next year’s Boston Marathon but found that registration had closed. He may try to run as a non-registered entrant.

“I know a few guys on the department who have done that,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s training for distance runs and has signed up for the upcoming Baystate Half Marathon.

Anyone interested in purchasing a Haverhill Firefighter/Boston StrongT-shirt can contact Sullivan at 781-589-6452 or tsull82@hotmail.com.