View Mobile Site
 

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

A line of remembrance

Friendship from hardship inspires apparel created in the memory of a tragic loss

Posted: October 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 14, 2012 2:00 a.m.

From left, Dan and Jacqui Stroud and J. David's men's suits store owner David Guenther hold hats with the 25 label designed by Guenther to honor David Stroud, 19, shown in Valencia High School basketball uniform who died of Lymphoma in 2011.

 

The two men bonded through illness — one, a young man in high school just beginning his life, the other a father and owner of a local retail store for men.

From that bonding and later a tragedy, a new clothing line was created inspired so that 19-year-old David Stroud would never be forgotten.

Stroud, son of Dan and Jacqui Stroud, was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008, while he was a junior at Valencia High. David Guenther, of J. David’s custom clothier in Valencia, suffered a brain aneurysm in the same year.

“David and I were going through our sicknesses at the same time,” Guenther said.

“His dad had been a customer for years, and I got to know David a little as he was growing up. But, through his illness, we stayed in touch,” he said. “I have a son his age, and so it really hit home with me. I couldn’t imagine what family was going through.”

Guenther recovered, and the athletic Stroud fought as hard against the cancer as he did against his opponents on the basketball court.

The illness

A basketball player, 6-foot-5 Stroud went to the doctor after suffering from lethargy after practice and games, Guenther said. Medical tests revealed he had cancer, and the diagnosis was grim. It was in the last stages of the disease.

Four months later, Stroud’s body went into septic shock, but he battled back to make a return to the Vikings basketball team in February 2009.

By June, he had a bone marrow transplant, hoping to stave off the disease. But in February 2010, Stroud relapsed.

After spending hundreds of days in the hospital, going in and out for treatment over a nearly three-year period, Stroud’s liver was failing in 2011.

The thing about Stroud, Guenther said, is he always wanted to dress nice, which was strange for his age, noting the teenager’s like of formal wear.

For his senior night with the basketball season, Stroud couldn’t play the game, so Guenther tailored a suit for him to wear while he sat on the bench.

“He looked like a million dollars,” Guenther said. “I went to the game and it made me feel so good and a little bit of joy — hope that he would end up beating the terrible disease.”

But the cancer continued gaining ground.

Not to be forgotten

As Stroud became more ill, Guenther arranged a surprise for him while Stroud was in the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

On Aug. 10, 2011, Los Angeles Clippers basketball star Blake Griffin stopped by to visit Stroud.

“David just lit up,” Guenther said.

Griffin spent more than two hours in that room, he said. Stroud asked Griffin to tell him who his toughest opponent was on the court. Griffin answered.

Then Stroud asked Griffin who his easiest opponent was. Griffin looked at Stroud and said he couldn’t name the easiest player because then everyone would know who the player was.

“David looked at Griffin and said ‘Look at me, who I am going to tell?” Guenther said. “Griffin then gave him a truthful answer.”

It was a great visit, Guenther said. But the moment that inspired the line of clothing came next.

“As we were leaving, David gave me a big hug that you could just feel in your bones,” Guenther said. “And he whispered in my ear, ‘I just don’t want to be forgotten.’”

Stroud died 10 days later. But, before he did, Guenther and Stroud planned the new clothing line in his honor.

25 Label

A few days later, Guenther had an idea to design a new clothing line — 25 — to honor Stroud. Pulling off to the shoulder of the freeway, he began texting back and forth with Stroud.

“What’s your favorite color?” Guenther texted Stroud.

“Lime green,” Stroud texted back. And so it was decided between the two of them that the clothing label would be created in lime green.

The two texted back and forth for quite a long time that night, designing the new line, Guenther said.

“Sweeeet,” Stroud texted in approval.

When Stroud, at age 19, lost his battle with cancer, Guenther produced the very first clothing line's label and gave it to his parents, who placed it under the lapel of the suit he was buried in.

Clothing line

The first product is now in the J. David’s retail store — a baseball hat. Guenther plans to produce a line of ties and upscale casual shirts next. Every item will have the “25” clothing line label on it, he said.

“We’re going to donate a percentage of everything we sell in that line to Children’s Hospital in a scholarship fund for other kids who survive to go on to school,” Guenther said.

Stroud just touched so many lives, Guenther said. His attitude was so incredible all the way to the end. He just got to you. That’s ever-lasting meaning for being on earth. Stroud affected people in ways you couldn’t imagine, he said. There was just something special about him.

“I still have the entire chronology of the text, the entire conversation,” Guenther said. “The story and chain of text messages is going to be framed on the wall in the store, along with a photo of Stroud and Blake Griffin.”

jadkins@the-signal.com

661-287-5599

 

Comments

Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

 
 

Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...