COLORADO SPRINGS — A simple message from a special needs adult in the Colorado Springs community is beind shared. It's about the importance of wearing a mask in public during the COVID pandemic.
As we all navigate through the pandemic, Anthony Pederson came up with the idea to design a t-shirt and put this positive message on it: "if you wear a mask, we can beat this thing."
"You have to wear your mask, we have to beat it," said Pederson.
Janiece Carlson, his grandmother, says he used his stimulus check to get the fundraiser started and work with a t-shirt printer.
"During the pandemic, when it first started, Anthony wanted to help somehow," said Carlson." All his life he's been a big giver and helper."
Carlson says it started with about 20 t-shirts that were sent to people locally, then the message was shared nationwide. The two even sent t-shirts to Governor Jared Polis and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who both thanks him for his efforts.
They sold about 300 total t-shirts and raised about $3,000. All of the proceeds raised benefited local nonprofit organizations like Care and Share Food Bank Colorado Springs, Project Angel Heart, Special Kids Special Families and Shield 616.
However, now Anthony has another idea in mind after he couldn't understand why people were protesting over the summer.
"Anthony, he's all heart and he pays a lot of attention to what's going on in the world," said Carlson. "When the protests and riots started, I had to explain why sometimes, people can't get together. So he's coming up with something that'll join people, instead of saying black lives matter or white lives matter, he wants to do something that'll join (people) together."
Anthony's idea is still being worked on, but he mentioned, "we need to work together."
His grandmother says the t-shirts are ways to relay a simple message from someone with a big heart.
"I hope everybody be's safe, and you need to wash your hands, and wear your mask," said Anthony.
"You can't judge a book by it's cover," said Carlson. "Anthony is special needs but he is so intelligent and so sweet and there are a lot of children and young adults out there like that. I think if you pay attention to the innocent in them, we would be a lot better off."