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By Gordon Paul
WATERLOO — Daniel Byrne’s mother, Kathy Shane, always gave back to the community. She donated to the Anselma House women’s shelter, helped out at the local soup kitchen and wrapped Christmas presents for underprivileged children.
She died in June after her car was hit by a transport truck on Homer Watson Boulevard in Kitchener. She was 56.
When Byrne and two friends came up with a plan to launch an online menswear business with funding through Kickstarter, they wanted to remember Byrne’s mother.
They decided their business would support Keep a Child Alive, a charity that provides treatment, care, food and support services to children and families affected by HIV in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and India. Byrne, 26, said his mother often told him he was fortunate to be born in a first-world country and he should do his part to help people who weren’t so lucky.
“I wanted to do something in memory of her and really push a cause that can help not just a community but globally.” The business founders are Byrne, of Waterloo, Julian Corredor, 20, of Waterloo, and Christopher Norkett, 27, of Kitchener.
For every suit sold, their business — Gentlemen of York — will contribute $30 to Keep a Child Alive.
As of Tuesday afternoon, $12,257 had been raised through Kickstarter, a popular crowdfunding website. The campaign began a week ago. The business will launch if $80,000 is raised by Nov. 3.
The trio think contributions will pick up now that Keep a Child Alive is starting to mention them on social media.
Gentlemen of York will get more publicity on Saturday when the trio does a Reddit “ask me anything” session with Keep a Child Alive chief executive Peter Twyman.
“I think it’s feasible,” Corredor said of the chance of hitting the $80,000 target.
Their campaign is listed on Kickstarter as a “staff pick.”
Rewards for giving to the campaign range from three pens and a shout-out on Twitter for a $5 pledge to a suit, jeans, dress shirts and T-shirts for a $999 pledge.
Gentlemen of York lists on Kickstarter what it will do if it reaches certain benchmarks.
If it raises $250,000, the business will create a scholarship fund for children in orphanages.
At $500,000, it will open a showroom in Toronto.
If $1 million is raised, it will be an adrenalin rush in more ways than one.
“This would be incredible,” the business owners wrote. “We would be able to help thousands of lives and provide you with the best suit you’ve ever worn. If we cross this goal, we will jump out of a helicopter in our first promotional video. The goal is to raise awareness of our brand and the cause that we are driving.”
Gentlemen of York will sell suits, dress shirts and jeans made in Europe.
“We have that slim fit that nobody has — only in Europe — and I want to bring that over here,” said Corredor, who worked for three years at Stars Men’s Shops.