Socks for Skye
Honoring a classmate and friend
Skye Swenson was a part of the Big Sky community since kindergarten and the Swenson family has lived in Big Sky since 2009. When Skye passed away in February 2020 due to a lifelong battle with complications from congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV), her classmates felt the chasm.
“I wanted to do something so that this wouldn’t be forgotten,” Lyli McCarthy, Lone Peak High School (LPHS) senior and National Honors Society (NHS) member, said.
As an NHS project, but also a project that stemmed directly from their hearts, students designed and are selling socks with proceeds going directly to Eagle Mount, a nonprofit out of Bozeman that supports individuals with disabilities through recreational opportunities. Eagle Mount helped facilitate outdoor activities and ski days for Skye.
“It’s really lovely that they’re thinking of her that way and wanting to honor her memory, and not only that, but then donating the money from that NHS fundraiser to one of the nonprofits that we worked so consistently with since we moved here since 2009 was Eagle Mount. They’ve been so generous to our family,” Lori Swenson, Skye’s mother, said.
“We’ve tried to have a project a year depending on the class,” Michael Romney, LPHS senior and NHS member, said. As Skye’s senior class, he described this project as the logical thing for the class to contribute. “I think NHS has done a really good job of kind of remembering these specific parts of our community that a lot of times maybe people don’t consider,” he continued.
“The reason that we loved socks is because she (Skye) always loved talking about her socks,” McCarthy said. She always had cool ones, McCarthy remembered.
Two seniors, Amelia Fisher and Brooke Meredith, designed the purple and pink fundraiser socks—Skye’s favorite colors—and embellished them with cats and butterflies, two of Skye’s favorite things. The goal was to put a little bit of Skye’s personality in each pair of socks.
“I was so touched when I saw that. I was so absolutely touched,” Swenson said. Beyond the socks including things that Skye liked, they held a greater significance.
Swenson explained that Skye was a nonverbal communicator and used augmented communication assisted by an iPad that allowed Skye to choose responses to questions or facilitate conversation. An icebreaker question set on the device said, ‘hey! Check out my socks!’
This question helped Skye initiate a conversation. Her socks showed through the specialized braces she wore and when she asked her classmates to check them out, they were able to comment on the designs or colors, which Skye loved.
“That was kind of one of her things. She was always known for her socks,” Swenson said. Swenson now wears the socks Skye loved in memory of her daughter.
NHS students are working with a company out of Michigan that manufactures custom socks.
“The more socks we sell the cheaper the cost is for us. There is a base number of socks that the company makes and then the more we sell, they get cheaper and cheaper for us to buy,” Dr. Kate Eisele, LPHS NHS supervisor and middle and high school science instructor, said.
Socks may be purchased until Jan. 30 at https://www.customsockshop.com/skye-swenson-sock-fundraiser/. Once purchased, the socks may be picked up at LPHS or Eagle Mount in Bozeman.
“They make a good Valentine’s Day gift for somebody you care about and love,” Dr. Eisele said.
“Skye was such a fundamental part of our school and I think that this was the perfect project to keep her alive and keep her memory alive,” Samantha Suazo, LPHS junior and NHS member said.
“I’ve really enjoyed working on it. Sam (Suazo) and I, we got to design the posters and we got the information out about it. It was just really cool. A lot of people are really excited about it,” Carly Wilson, LPHS junior and NHS member, said.
Going a step further, NHS members are encouraging the entire senior class to purchase at least one pair. At graduation, seniors will wear the socks honoring Skye.
“My husband, Paul, and I and Skye’s siblings, Solae and Rin, all four of us are just so touched and we are so grateful to her classmates for honoring her in this way,” Swenson said.