Whether tragedy, diagnosis, or others’ decisions have affected our lives or the ones we love, we all have the commonality of being knocked down and facing circumstances that are well out of our control. It is when these disasters strike that we are faced with a question, one that cannot be avoided. It is the question asking, How will I respond? A question that determines if the course of the future is fought for with anger and bitterness or with purpose and hope.
Twenty-seven years ago, Traci received news that her 14-month old son Tanner was given 10-12 years left to live. Tanner was diagnosed with cystinosis– a genetic metabolic disease that causes a slow deterioration of the organs. Only 500 children and young adults in the U.S. have cystinosis and approximately 2,000 worldwide. With limited research and no present cure, it was the beginning of a long road of treatments for Tanner, and the support and community for Traci seemed impossible to find.
At that time, Traci was a hair stylist running her own salon in Illinois. Tanner had extensive treatments all across the country, spending months in hospitals and two years on dialysis due to the disease attacking his kidneys. Both Traci and Tanner’s father donated a kidney to fight for his life and restore his health.
Not until Tanner was 24 did they find the Cystinosis Research Foundation, a community of people dedicated to research fundraising. Her husband encouraged her to attend the CRF conferences and engage with this community who shared similar stories. Traci had initiated some small fundraising on her own. She started a Facebook page called, Clothes for a Cure for Cystinosis, and began selling her clothes to raise money for Tanner.
With many years of treatments and getting used to the new “normal,” Traci began to see a need for more than Tanner’s medical attention, she began to notice the emotional toll this was taking on her son. And as a mother determined to provide the best for her son, she knew Tanner needed purpose and hope in order to save his life.
After much thought, she settled on opening a men’s clothing shop– something Tanner had an interest in and Traci was passionate about running as well. In 2015, this dream became a reality when they opened Storm Men’s Shop in downtown Fort Collins. The name was prompted by Traci’s husband and quickly agreed upon when she thought of the nature of how life had been to this point. Storm Men’s Shop is a mid to upscale clothing shop with accessories and gifts for the young professional male.
What’s unique about Storm Men’s Shop is that profit is not the drive, but purpose is. Traci is committed to giving 100% profits to the Cystinosis Research Foundation to further research and awareness. Storm Men’s Shop is a business focused on the wellbeing and fight for others; a business that cares for their small staff– including Tanner who works full-time– and a business that supports the 2,500 young people around the world with cystinosis that are often forgotten or overlooked.
“You don’t have to be a doctor or be doing something that we all label as wonderful and good. You can find that in more of an artistic style.” Traci knows the value of working with and for a purpose and greater good. Propped on Traci’s desk reads a simple, framed statement: “Style with a Purpose.” This is the drive behind Storm Men’s Shop and the life she has dedicated to live with Tanner.
Although we cannot always choose our circumstances, we do have a choice in our response. We come to a crossroads of deciding how we will move forward and what we will fight with. Traci chooses to fight with a purpose, fighting to save her son, and fights with hope in finding a cure for cystinosis to save many more.
Written by Sarah Brase, Writing Specialist at Story On