PEA RIDGE, Ark. — The owners of a Pea Ridge coffee shop are giving back to the community that gave them so much, after the loss of a loved one.
15-year-old Ayden Cotton died suddenly in January of 2020. To raise money for funeral expenses the Pea Ridge community started selling "24 forever" t-shirts. 24 being the number Ayden wore on the football field each week.
“He was my only son and certainly the most important person in the world to me. So, our family struggled a lot, but this community immediately reached out to us,” said Jamie Cotton.
Ayden’s mom, Jamie Cotton, says after paying for the funeral, her family used the leftover money to create the Ayden Cotton 24 Forever Memorial Scholarship. They gave out three scholarships in their first year.
This year they gave out 24, totaling more than $15,000 to classmates that Ayden would have graduated with.
“This community has really came out and they’ve just done amazing for us. It’s really even a great honor to be here,” said Roy Cotton.
Cotton, her husband, and two good friends were looking to open a business together before Ayden’s death. They originally were planning on opening a car lot but ultimately decided on a coffee shop since Pea Ridge didn’t have one. The shop, called Ember Mountain Coffee Company, opened in June 2021. That name, Ember Mountain, is a subtle tribute to Cotton's late son with "Ayden" meaning "little fires."
“Being able to honor him every day by using his name on our cups, on our signs, in our hearts, it’s just overwhelming to us,” she said.
This Sunday would have marked Ayden’s 18th birthday. The Cottons will celebrate Saturday (July 23) by hosting “24 Forever Day” and selling t-shirts...All proceeds from a drink called Ayden’s choice will also go to the scholarship fund.
“We love that he is still a part of it. It still feels like he’s with us, you know, and he would be so proud of this,” she said.
Again, you can participate in “24 forever day” and donate to the scholarship fund at the ember mountain coffee company locations in Pea Ridge and Gentry. There is also an account at Arvest Bank in Pea Ridge where you can donate to the scholarship fund anytime. In 2023 they will be giving out scholarships to Pea Ridge and Gentry seniors.
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