CALEDONIA, Mich. -- After the unexpected death of 14-year-old Kyle Oaks Jerls last week, his classmates are finding a way to honor his memory.
A group of Duncan Lake Middle School seventh graders helped create t-shirts with a special message: #BeHereTomorrow.
There has already been more than 500 shirts ordered from the group, meant to honor the 8th grade Duncan Lake Middle School student and raise awareness about a serious issue.
“I know people are taking what I’m saying to heart," said Anna Fanco a Duncan Middle School 7th grader. "The message is getting passed around, so people will hear it and they’ll take notice of it. My age doesn’t matter in this, it’s the message I’m trying to get across.”
All of the money from the t-shirts will go to Kyle's family. "To help pay for burial, counseling, and the funeral," said Fanco.
But the shirts are not just about raising money, it's also about the message.
“I wanted to talk about this because we’ve always heard about suicide in the news, but it’s never been this close to home," said Fanco. "This made it a lot more real. I realized it needed to be talked about in the middle schools, not just the high schools and adulthood."
"I'm hoping if anything is accomplished from these t-shirts beyond helping out his family with final expenses, I hope it starts discussions," said Anna's mother Elizabeth Fanco. "Discussions at home, discussions at school, discussion among friends, that can help hopefully prevent a tragedy like this from happening in the future."
#BeHereTomorrow is a promise not only that you'll be here tomorrow, but that you'll also be there for a friend in need.
“I know not everyone feels like they can talk to their parents or friends, but Duncan [schools] has counselors you can talk to," said Anna Fanco. “In middle school, they are changing a lot, so they feel like they can’t talk to anyone, no one knows what they’re going through, but they need to know there’s people that’s gone through the exact same thing.”
All of the shirts ordered so far have been through social media and word of mouth, but the group plans on having order forms available in the district's middle schools and high school by the end of the week.
A funeral is set for Kyle Oaks Jerls at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Cornerstone Church 1675 84th St., Caledonia.
Those with Cornerstone Church tell FOX 17 the family hopes to help create suicide prevention groups within the school district.
People interested in buying a #BeHereTomorrow t-shirt can contact Elizabeth Fanco by clicking here.