‘The Gardner Griswolds’: Man making good on promise to couple killed in I-35 crash

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GARDNER, Kan. — A Gardner man is making good on a promise he made to a couple killed in a motorcycle crash last week.

Josh Hutchison cuts into a tree trunk that once stood 18-feet tall in Jason and Julie Huen’s living room. In 2017, FOX4 talked with the couple, while they invited all of Gardner to come check it out.

Hutchison met the couple when he spotted the monster tree on top of their car at QuickTrip. It was a moment in time he said Julie referred to as a Griswold family occasion.

“I was like what’re you guys doing? That’s a huge tree,” Hutchison said. “And they’re like that’s our Christmas tree. And I was like that’s amazing.”

Hutchison makes ornaments out of Christmas trees. So asking for theirs was a no brainier. After the holidays, the Gardner couple gave it to him on one condition – they get the first ornament.

A year and a half later, the tree has dried and cured, and is ready to be cut. But they’re missing a big piece, Jason and Julie. They were killed in a motorcycle crash last week after hitting a deer on I-35, just outside Garnder.

“You know, now we don’t have that opportunity to give them, Jason and Julie, the first ornament, but I’m able to honor their family by still making good on my word and still making that first ornament for them,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison is making good on his promise by the dozens. He’s engraving wood from the very tree they made famous and selling them as ornaments and plaques.

“The header of the plaque of the Christmas ornament itself says ‘The Gardner Griswolds,'” Hutchison said. “Julie actually mentioned that in one of her posts and I was like how perfect is that.”

At $20 – $30 a pop, Hutchison said he’s donating every dime to the Huen family.

“You know, hopefully I’m blessing them with a kind of like a small legacy,” Hutchison said. “They’ve given to the community and our community’s giving right back, even after a tragedy like this.”

Jason and Julie leave behind three children. If you would like to help the family, donate to the “Julie Huen Fund” at Arvest Bank in Gardner, KS. Then, contact Hutchison via Facebook: Josh Hutch.

The Gardner community is hosting a memorial fundraiser for the Huen family from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday at Celebration Park Sports Complex, 32501 159th St. in Gardner. There will be a silent auction, food, face painting and yard games.

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