Devastated after learning how some shelters euthanize animals who aren't adopted, the teen made it his mission to help as many animals as possible.
A 14-year-old from New Jersey is on a mission to help shelter dogs and cats find their forever homes one bow tie at a time. Sir Darius Brown — a New Jersey teen who was born with a fine motor skill delay — was eight-years-old when his mother, Joy Brown, thought working with his hands might help her son. Since Darius looked up to his sister, Dazhai Shearz, who was a hairstylist making her own hair bows at the time, Brown suggested that he become her "assistant." While the youngster started off by helping Shearz cut fabric for the bows, he eventually learned how to use the sewing machine too.
However, since Darius wouldn't get much use out of hair bows, Shearz encouraged him to try turning them into bow ties, reports Good Morning America. The young boy was quite taken with the idea of sewing bow ties and his creations soon became a wardrobe staple. Little did he know that a few years down the line, his bow ties would help save many lives across the country and bring joy to a lot of families. The turning point came in 2017 — two years after Darius began making his own bow ties — when Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma struck Texas and Florida.
Seeing the damage wreaked by the hurricanes, Darius asked his mother if they could send money to help the families who were impacted. Brown explained since she didn't have the means to donate a significant amount of money to those in need, he would have to find a creative way to help them. As Darius brainstormed ideas, he remembered seeing videos of animals being shipped to shelters near him from Florida and Texas following the hurricanes and realized that his bowties might help them find their forever homes. "At first I didn't get it," Brown said. "But then he explained that he could donate his bow ties to the shelters and if the dogs wear them they'll be looking cute and dapper and people will want to adopt them."
Not long after, Darius brought his first batch of bow ties to their local ASPCA. It was during this visit that he learned how some shelters euthanize animals who aren't adopted after a certain period of time. Wanting to help as many animals as he could, the teen began making 10 to 15 bow ties a week with each bow tie taking around 30 minutes to make on his sewing machine at home. The more bow ties he donated, the more demand came from shelters.
While they usually ship his creations to shelters across the nations, in the summer of 2019, Darius and his mom visited seven states to personally deliver the bow ties and meet the shelter animals. "At first it's sad seeing the dogs in their cages," said Darius. "But I just keep reminding myself that I am doing this to help." Since beginning his bow tie initiative, the teen has made over 500 bow ties, helped dozens of cats and dogs get adopted at more than 20 shelters, and started a company called Beaux and Paws. He's currently raising money on his GoFundMe page to personally deliver bow ties to shelters in all 50 states.
"I want to help as many dogs as I possibly can and to continue to give back to others," Darius explained. "I want to inspire the youth to give back to the community as well, and use your passion to help others." The young man has received many accolades for his work over the years, including a Presidential Commendation from former President Obama in 2018. He was also featured as one of GoFundMe's kid heroes and named the 2020 New Jersey State Honoree for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. "He's amazing. I really think I want to be like him when I grow up," Brown said of her son. "He's selfless. He just gives from his heart."