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March 26, 2022

The Arek Gustafson Story

The Arek Gustafson Story

A little more than a year ago, Tamah and Matt Gustafson experienced the tragic loss of their son Arek.  A loss that no parent would be prepared to endure. “Arek was our first child together, said Matt. He was the third of our four children. His brothers Ethan 19, Owen 15Tamah, Matt, Ivan, and Arek, and his baby bother Ivan is 2 years old.”

Even at a very early age Arek was an extraordinary and adventurous child who lived life to the fullest. At two years old he was already riding dirt bikes. The Gustafson homestead in Mason off Meridian Rd would prove to be a paradise of fun and adventure and learning for Arek.  At the end of a quiet cul-de-sac the Gustafson home is surrounded by a pond, tracks for dirt bikes, and a large garden to explore and tend.

“For every new activity Arek showed an intense interest in, the gear or the tools he would need to fully explore and experience his environment was a priority for him.  We have this sweet video of 2-year-old Arek fully outfitted in safety riding gear for his small dirt bike, “shared Tamah.  “He was so proud of himself. I remember running along beside him, trying to keep up with him as he rode that bike. Before long, we created a small track close to the house so we could watch him ride and make sure he was safe, and I wouldn’t have to run behind him,” said Matt.

Arek and his dirt bikeWith each passing year, Arek showed his family and friends what an extraordinary and caring young man he was. He was fondly called “Arek the Incredible.” He was a kind and gentle big brother to Ivan and sweet and thoughtful soul to everyone he met.

Arek Loved to Help in the Garden

“As he grew older Arek was enthralled with the idea of growing and eating vegetables fresh from our garden. That interest in food extended to what he could find and prepare for himself from our pantry and refrigerator.  Even at an early age Arek would get up in the morning before school and prepare his own breakfast and clean up after himself, shared Tamah.

In the summer of 2020 in the early days of the pandemic we had a huge garden.  Arek was very interested in having a vegetable stand, as he had an entrepreneurial spirit and saw an opportunity. Matt and he built the stand and named it “Arek’s Store.” Arek took responsibility for stocking the stand with fresh vegetables and mom helped him with making signs.  We promised him that he could keep all the funds from his vegetable stand.  The neighbors happily supported Arek’s Store, also known as Arek’s Vegetable Stand which was at the turn-off on Meridian Rd. to our subdivision.”

Weekend Survival Kits Helps Gustafson Family with a Tribute

Making sense of the loss of Arek was difficult for Tamah and Matt. It was their neighbors, family, and friends who helped them in the early days of sorrow by contributing to the creation of a celebration of his life that reflected their own experiences with this dear sweet boy. The neighbors and friends have joined together to keep Arek’s Vegetable Stand going by donating vegetables as well as donating funds for fresh produce. Through the summer, that support grew and expanded to include the Mason community and surrounding areas.

Now, a year later, the Gustafsons wish to honor their son’s life by partnering with Weekend Survival Kits to provide food kits specifically for the Mason schoolmates of Arek. One of his favorite foods to eat was Kraft Mac N Cheese with peas. That is why we are including it in the kits assembled by Weekend Survival Kits the week of March 21st, 2022.

“We want to honor the memory of our son by taking his cue from the vegetable stand enterprise and translate that into a memorial gift that might inspire some of the kids he went to school with to eat healthy, work hard, and do good in school.  Even if growing fresh vegetables is not their interest, eating good food and doing well in school is something we can encourage in Arek’s memory,” shared Matt and Tamah Gustafson.