Only one of the six Oritz/Hernandez children survived a fire that ravaged their mobile home, and Trey Ganem, like many in their small community, has personal ties to the children. Ganem’s son played football on the school’s varsity team with the oldest of the Oritz children, 15-year-old Noah. His daughter was a classmate of 11-year-old Julian, and Ganem just desperately wanted to do something to help.
Trey Ganem is a custom painter that used his skills on muscle cars for years, until this last year when he turned his talent to customizing caskets. At the request of the family he has designed five individual caskets that reflect the children’s personalities. He is donating the final resting places of the children, along with his skill in transforming them. This along with the $28,000 that the community raised will be a small help in the family’s long painful process to move on with their lives. The Ortiz/Hernandez family lost their home as well as five of six children.
The two oldest will have the best that Ganem can offer, and with the help of the family he will customize the caskets inside and out. Noah will have a casket reflecting the colors of his school as well as his football jersey number. Julian’s casket will be a study in wrestling art including a custom logo just for this young man. Nicholas, 6-years-old, will be laid to rest in a casket that reflects what he loved best in life, video games, specifically, Call of Duty. The two girls Areyanah who was 6-years-old and Lilyana Hernandez, 5-years-old were like most girls their age, in love with Frozen’s Elsa and Anna. Their caskets will reflect this love complete with tiaras and glittery blues and pinks.
One look at Ganems website shows the dedication he brings to ensuring that one of life’s hardest moments is done in style. His unique ability to paint on caskets gives him a niche not previously covered. He does not say exactly why he chose this as a way to express his art, although he admits it is a bit strange. The artist does say that he creates every work of art as if it was for his own family member. Although the caskets are, and can be designed for anyone, he seems to take great pride in his children’s designs, which include princess themes and superhero designs. He can customize it to the child’s personality, like the one pictured here of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles design.
Loosing a child is one of the hardest things that could happen to a person, and this family will have a long road to recovery, however they have a community that will support them through this tragic time. People like Trey Ganem will live on in the hearts of many for the unprecedented gift of not one but five custom resting places. No amount of paint can erase the pain, but laying their children to rest surrounded by the things they loved will be just a little bit of comfort to them.
by Kristi Cereska