NORFOLK, Va. - It’s that time of the year when people are out looking for the perfect gift.
“We are going to find it,” said Niamh Nowland.
This particular gift Nowland and her father, Jim Nowland, are looking for is nothing new. It’s used, but it carries memories that will bring some joy to a grieving mother.
It’s a navy blue NASCAR jacket.
“You know, it was just his favorite jacket at the time,” said Susan Sadler.
Sadler’s 18-year-old son Alex Blandin, a Cox High School alum, died back in September.
“Our last family photo, he is in that jacket,” Sadler says of a picture of Alex visiting his mom and family in Oklahoma earlier this year.
A couple days after Alex died, a family member boxed up some of his clothes and dropped it off in a donation box. They accidentally added the jacket his mom is now desperately searching for.
“Just knowing that I hugged him wearing that jacket so many times... if I could feel that jacket, then he is going to feel a little bit closer to me,” said Sadler.
Sadler believes the extra large Miller Lite-designed jacket with logos is now at a local thrift store in Norfolk or Virginia Beach.
“It’s got red piping at the top and an elastic around the bottom,” Sadler describes.
She’s had no luck finding the jacket thousands of miles away in Oklahoma, so Niamh and her father started searching back in September - and they aren’t giving up.
“Being a father, I can’t even believe what she is going through,” said Jim Nowland.
After seeing Niamh's Facebook post, others in the community are joining in on the search.
“On this one street alone, there’s like five thrift stores,” Nowland adds. “The big thing is, even if they have it, there is so much these ladies and men go through to sort things out, and they may not even find it for a month or two.”
If someone has purchased the jacket, Sadler says she’s willing to buy it back just to get a piece of her son back.
“It's memories. It’s something he was physically in that I can hold on to,” she adds.