KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) - West Michigan Marine Cpl. Josh Hoffman was severely injured in Iraq in 2007. It's always been a dream of his to design a T-shirt, and now, he's overcoming his injuries to make that dream come true.
Hoffman was attacked while serving in Fallujah, Iraq in January of 2007. He was shot in the neck and is now paralyzed from the neck down. He can no longer speak, eat or move on his own. He communicates in a code; it's a way his thoughts can shatter the silence that sniper's bullet sentenced him to.
Hoffman's caregiver Aimee Sutherland has lived with him for the past year. She explained and deciphered the code.
"One is A through F, two is G through L, three M through R, four S through V, Five W through Z and 6 is the numbers [zero through nine]," Sutherland explained.
That code will be incorporated into Hoffman's T-shirt design, which will be unveiled Friday.
Hoffman teamed up with two local companies -- Fashion Has Heart and Regal Financial Group -- to design a T-shirt, and "skins," or covers for devices like iPods and iPads, inspired by his experiences.
When 24 Hour News 8 asked Hoffman if making a difference with a project like this one helps him, he smiled and nodded.
Sutherland told us, "It gives him something to look forward to. I mean, there's always doctors' appointments, there's always the daily activities, you know, but to actually look forward to doing something like this. And being able to tell a story that's this unique, and once somebody actually understands the story behind it, it's just really, I think, it's going to be touching."
Sutherland told 24 Hour News 8 that the design will focus, at least in part, on what Hoffman thinks it takes to be a hero.
"When he was asked what his definition of a hero was he said total sacrifice," said Sutherland.
Fashion Has Heart has made shirts before to benefit the wounded, but this is the first time a wounded veteran like Hoffman has been so involved in the process.
"Josh was there, similar to what Ralph Lauren, what he does, creating Polo. ... He's an actual designer in this process and that's our whole goal to provide them the outlet and ability to actually, you know, get their creative abilities out there," said founder of Fashion Has Heart Michael Hyacinthe.
He went on to say, "To be quite honest, Josh has inspired us. We thought we would inspire Josh, but his level of commitment and his passion for creative art has really inspired us to continue to work with him like I couldn't explain."
24 Hour News 8 learned that Hoffman hopes his participation in the project will inspire other veterans to create similar projects. Hoffman and Sutherland also hope that the project will help others not to forget the wounded veterans.
"[People] don't realize that when a soldier comes home with an injury, that there's so much more behind them just coming home. It lasts a lifetime," said Sutherland.
About a quarter of the profits from the sales will go directly to Hoffman.
Fashion Has Heart hopes to continue working creatively with Hoffman, and also work with other wounded veterans on future projects.
The T-Shirts will be $25. They will be sold in Chicago and locally in stores and also on the Fashion Has Heart website.
Launch Party Information:
Friday, December 9, 6-9 pm
Regal Financial Group
2687 44th St SE
Kentwood, MI 49512
Learn more about the Cpl. Hoffman Series.
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