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Turning Tragedy into Purpose: Alex and Andy help stroke survivors after trending on TikTok

Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good: Alex And Andy
Posted at 4:22 PM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 17:45:03-05

CARMEL — February is American Heart Month and WRTV is introducing you to one dynamic duo, who’s taken a personal setback and turned it into a message for people to see across the world.

Day in and day out, Sophie Shock and Andrew Thoman work as a team to wrap and pack unique bandanas for dogs.

From the laughs and smiles, it’s easy to see they enjoy working together and it’s a change of pace for the man they call Uncle Andy, who needs to take things a little slower.

Uncle Andy served as a dispatcher until he suffered from a stroke, in June 2020

“That moment, I was like 'I have to do something,'" Shock said. "I was calling, trying to figure out how we could get a hold of him. You can’t cause it was in the middle of COVID."

The memory brings tears to Shock's eyes, and it changed Uncle Andy’s life forever.

“His sister and I had a chat one day about potentially having to think about selling some belongings to pay for the care that he really deeply deserved,” Shock said.

However, that thought was put on pause, when Shock had another idea.

“One day I was sitting on my couch with his dog, Alex, who had a bandana on and I was like 'That can’t be too hard to make,'” Shock said.

So, Shock felt inspired to make slip-on dog bandanas with different patterns on each side and she called it 'Alex And Andy' after Uncle Andy and his dog, Alex.

“I had no sewing machine, no website, no idea really how to sew,” she said. But the 23-year-old posted the story on TikTok and it blew up.

She got over 100,000 views from their first video and 200 orders for dog bandanas, raising more than $11,000 for Uncle Andy’s recovery.

“Who would’ve thought that from one video on TikTok would land us to where we are now?” Shock said.

Now Alex and Andy’s business is their full-time work. Uncle Andy is growing stronger and together they’ve sewn and sold over 9,500 bandanas to 13 countries and every state in America.

With 68,000 followers, each TikTok video shows their authentic relationship. Just two people, who proved friends can become family.

“It’s so funny because my brother and I have always called him Uncle Andy, since we were born,” Shock said.

Little can you tell, Uncle Andy isn’t biologically related. In fact, he’s Shock's dad’s best friend.

"And now thousands and thousands and thousands of people call him Uncle Andy all across the world,” she said.

With each order across the world, Uncle Andy sends handwritten thank you notes, from his wheelchair.

“It’s a lot of writing but it definitely has improved his handwriting, it helps with the motor skills,” Shock said.

Andy lost the ability to use his right hand after the stroke. Now as much as he composes letter with his left hand, he’s also received letters from others who share stories of stroke survivors.

“He’s so inspiring and I’m just so proud of him," she said.

Uncle Andy and Shock even started up a non-profit for Alex And Andy to contribute part of their sales to other organizations helping stroke survivors.

That made Shock the perfect recipient of the Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good.

“It’s been a very humbling experience that I will never ever take for granted ever,” Shock said.

Shock said she’s getting married in June and is hopeful Uncle Andy can walk her down the aisle, along with her dad.

Now each shirt or sweatshirt is also hand-designed by Uncle Andy and with your purchase, Uncle Andy’s postcards include stroke awareness facts on them.

You can visit their website to learn more.