"It's not about just painting a casket-- it's about representing that loved one's life," Ganem said.
On Friday, the Strand family gathered to mourn 7-year-old Athena Strand at a "Viking princess" themed service held for her in Bridgeport, Texas, per WFAA. Athena was killed by a FedEx driver who was delivering a package of Barbie Dolls to her house last month.
Trey Ganem, the owner of SoulShine, created her personalized casket and donated it to the family free of cost. Maitlyn Gandy, Athena's mom, shared a post of gratitude on Facebook. She wrote, "Jacob and I, as well as Athena’s entire family would like to thank Trey with SoulShine Industries. You helped us capture our Viking Princess in a way we didn’t think possible. Trey and his wife are truly friends for life. You guys are very talented, kind, amazing humans. Athena looked very comfortable in her bed." The families of the 19 victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this year also received personalized caskets from SoulShine Industries.
Ganem revealed that he gave the casket to the family as a gift; to be used by the family as a memory box to store Athena's belongings. "It's not about just painting a casket-- it's about representing that loved one's life," Ganem said. "This one hit me pretty hard because we think we're safe -- especially with someone bringing us packages. I don't know how to comprehend what the family was going through, and it was really emotional for me."
Her favorite color, pink, was used to paint Strand's casket, which also featured a princess crown topped with rhinestones and a picture of her inside the lid. The front of the casket also featured two Viking emblems. "One of the symbols means 'father-daughter' and then the other means 'mother-daughter,'" said SoulShine's owner, Trey Ganem, who explained that the family wanted a "Viking Princess-themed casket."
A private funeral service was held Friday for Athena Strand, the 7-year-old police say was abducted and killed by a contracted FedEx driver. The service included a donated pink casket and Disney songs. https://t.co/bFvMUIXKte— WFAA (@wfaa) December 10, 2022
Strand's father attends Renaissance fairs, and the 7-year-old frequently accompanied him. "Athena had some cool pictures looking like a Viking—she had an axe and a huge shield. She was a daddy's girl, for sure," Ganem said, adding that the casket turned out to be amazing.
Gandy shared that her daughter was cremated following the service on Friday. Her ashes will be kept in a personalized urn, which will also be made by Ganem and the SoulShine Industries. "The hardest thing a parent has to do is pick out that casket. I don't want that to be the hardest thing; I want that to be something that represents that child," Ganem said.
The top of Athena's casket contains a princess crown with rhinestones -- a symbol that her father has tattooed on one of his hands that Athena liked is below. https://t.co/T1pS69KLyQ— KYTX CBS19 (@kytxcbs19) December 11, 2022
Gandy told WFAA that Athena's favorite Disney tunes were played alongside her images throughout the service. The youngster was particularly fond of the film, Frozen.
Maitlyn has been documenting her grief on social media and says she wishes to celebrate Athena's life as much as possible. Last week, she took to Facebook to express her grief. “She was perfect from her creation. She was born perfect and too beautiful,” she wrote, adding that the couple was always scared of how beautiful she was. “We feel like we failed you. No one deserves what happened to you, but especially you. I love you and love doesn’t even cover it. Mommy is broken without you.”
NEW: Hundreds of motorcyclists/vehicle drivers are organizing a fundraising ride for the family of Athena Strand. $20 from each vehicle is expected to be donated — after investigators say contract FedEx delivery truck driver, Tanner Horner, confessed to killing Athena. @FOX4 pic.twitter.com/T9sE5KyDGG— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) December 11, 2022
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Maitlyn Presley Gandy