Skip to main content

After Tragedy, Father Strives to Spread Hope

Aug 12, 2019 11:01AM ● By Arianne Brown

A red, 1965 Cadillac Deville. A baby blue 1965 Mustang. Then, another Cadillac Deville — this time, a 1966. These cars didn’t only represent collector’s items for Santaquin resident, Cornell Olson. To him, they represented time — time with his youngest son, Kaleb. Hours and hours, the two would spend restoring these cars. Those hours were cut short on April 6, 2017 when 22-year-old, Kaleb, who was a student at Dixie State College at the time, took his life.

“When Kaleb died, everything stopped,” Olson said through muffled tears. “I don’t know why. Why did he do it? It’s the haunting question of every single member of the suicide sadness club — the worst club in the world to belong to. It’s heartbreaking and exhausting, and I just couldn’t function. I kept myself in my room for two years. I couldn’t do anything but cry and keep myself from wanting to go with him. It takes everything out of you. Nobody talks to you. Suicide sucks.  I wanted to work on the car, but I didn’t have it in me to do it.”

That’s when Olson had an idea that lifted his spirits a bit and gave him hope. 

“I didn’t want Kaleb to die in vain, and I wanted to help the many youth who are struggling,” Olson said. “There is so much money spent on sports and other activities. What about the kids who just don’t fit? They need help. My son needed help.”

Fueled with that desire to make a difference, Olson decided that he would turn the 1966 Cadillac he and his son were working on into a brand, and travel around in it to speak to the local schools about suicide prevention.

That’s when he was connected with a man by the name of Jorge Garcia who, along with his son, had been spreading a similar message to teens in the area.

Serve Daily reported on Garcia and his son, Kaden back in December as a  father-son duo who have been working to spread the word of suicide prevention to teens through the clothing line, Your Tribe Clothing. The clothing line has specific powerful or inspirational words with a semicolon in place of the letter “i” to represent a sign to pause. In addition to the clothing line, the duo have been providing suicide awareness training to schools in the Nebo School District, and have even been commissioned to help create the suicide prevention curriculum for the school district. When Olson heard what the Garcias were doing, he decided to donate his cherished car to their efforts, in hopes that the two of them could restore the car together, like he and his son had planned. 

“Being asked by Cornell to finish the project for him and his son is an honor and blessing to us,” Jorge Garcia said. “I grew up working on cars, and it is something that brings me happiness. When we got the car, though, I felt like it belonged to the community, and not just my son and I. So, I reached out to the community to see if there would be interest in donating labor and parts to make this a car that we could all benefit from.”

Garcia reached out to places like Provo Big O’ Tire, Rock Canyon Bank, Rock Canyon Bank, JP Customs, Advanced Powder Coating, and AutoMax to gather a tribe of community support to work on the car together. Each company, along with several individuals, have jumped on board, and are working together to help spread the message of hope.

“This car is not my car, but our car,” Garcia said. “We will put the name, ‘Your Tr;be Cloth;ng’ on it, as well as the names of those who have helped rebuild it. Each will have the semicolon representing the sign to pause. We will take it to suicide awareness events at the schools and in the community, parades and other community events like car shows to help keep an open dialogue of mental health, suicide, and hope. We are confident that the community — the ‘TR;BE’ will come together to see this important work move forward, and we are so grateful to Cornell for doing this even during his own time of suffering and healing. 

To keep updated on the car remodel or to help, a Facebook group has been set up under YOUR TR;BE RESTORATION. (Brown is a Serve Daily Contributor.)