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by Colleen Schuerlein, President & Founder of Standing Tall Igniting Hope

The Inspiration Behind Standing Tall

My grandson Erik is the true inspiration for the Standing Tall Igniting Hope non-profit organization. He left us in March, 2020 after struggling many years of living with the disabling disease of schizoaffective disorder, which ultimately led to him taking his own life.

As our family dealt with the anguish of Erik’s leaving us, I asked myself, what could I do with the pain of losing him? What were some of his qualities that I could bring forward and share with people in my life, and people I had yet to meet? How can our experiences as a family journeying with Erik through his illness and what we learned along the way benefit others going through similar challenges? From these questions, came the birth of this nonprofit organization.

The Standing Tall Logo

Erik was a brilliant artist – and followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, and father, both professionally celebrated artists in their own rights. While thinking about a logo, I was sitting in my living room with my eyes closed, deep in contemplation. When I opened my eyes, the blue heron, (one of Erik’s framed creations titled “Standing Tall”), was staring back at me from the wall it was hanging on. It was as if that exquisite heron said, “I am Standing Tall, and I am the logo.”

Building a Community of the Heart

During our many conversations prior to his passing, Erik would talk with me about the “Web of Love & Connection,” and how we are all connected to, and a part of that Love. He is the captain of this ship, helping me to create “The Community of the HEART” – a community brought together through the work of the Standing Tall Igniting Hope organization.

In honor of Erik’s life as an artist – as we travel on this journey together, we will be spotlighting other artists who are graciously donating their art to support our fundraising efforts.