As friends and families prepare to wish their dead children a final goodbye, heart-breaking custom coffins are being delivered to Uvalde bearing images of dinosaurs, llamas, slime, the TikTok logo, basketballs, musical notes, and Pokemon.
Texas businessman Trey Ganem produced the coffins. His company, Soul Shine Industries, specializes in creating custom caskets which ordinarily retail at around $3400, but Ganem donated them to the families of the 19 murdered children and their two teachers who were gunned down in last week’s massacre at Robb Elementary.
The Uvalde funerals began yesterday as the devastated families of two ten-year-old girls shot dead by gunman Salvador Ramos laid their children to rest.
Meet the TX man who’s making customized caskets for each of the 19 young victims and two teachers from the school shooting in #Uvalde. Trey Ganem visited with the families last week so each casket is personalized to include each child's interests.
📷: SoulShine Industries pic.twitter.com/eeoOZHcrfF
— John-Carlos Estrada (@Mr_JCE) May 31, 2022
In what would have been the first week of the summer vacation for Robb Elementary students, Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, both 10, were buried yesterday.
Coffin creator Ganem, 50, told Buzzfeed that he was contacted by the Texas Funeral Directors’ Association, who asked him if he was willing to help the victims’ families. He explained that when he was contacted, the death toll was not certain, but the Association wanted to be sure that the children got the send-off they deserved:
“I think there were 17 at the time that he knew of, and he wanted to know if I would be able to help out and make sure that all these kids have, you know, some personalization,” said Ganem.
“We’re here to try to make a hard time a little easier,” he added.
Ganem said he worked for 20 hours straight on the custom designs to complete them in time for the victims’ funerals.
His friend, Bubba Hoffman, who owns a haulage firm, made the 26-hour trip to collect children-sized caskets from Georgia and then delivered them to Ganem in Edna so that he could customize them with designs suggested by the families.
On Saturday, Ganem’s team made the first 220-mile delivery to Uvalde.
“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.
“It has been an extremely emotional roller coaster for me,” he said.
The mother of 10-year-old Eliahana Torres said when she was contacted about the casket, she began to think about all the things her daughter loved. The little girl’s coffin displays images of the TikTok logo and a splash of neon slime:
“She would tell me that she needed glue for school because she had a big ole project to do, and the glue would be to make slime,” said her mom, Sandra Torres.
“She drove us crazy with the TikTok!” added the grieving mom.
Ganem said the designs have been both heart-wrenching and amusing as families honor the memory of their kids with the images on their coffins – a final bid to remember the things that made their children happy.
“There was one that wanted dinosaurs, with flashlights, holding a pickle,” said Ganem.
The first funeral was held yesterday, and now the distraught Uvalde community will be preparing for 20 more.