POLK CITY, Iowa – A metro family is heading in separate directions across the country.
“My parents are in the process of moving to Florida and I’m actually in the process of moving to Los Angeles,” says 19-year-old Noah Wille.
While packing their lives into boxes, the Wille family found some things they hadn’t seen in a while.
“I think was I think a box we had never opened from a previous move,” says Wille. “There was this one picture of them, very distinct and my parents were super young it looked like they had just first met each other and so I asked and sure enough my parents said yeah this is one of the photos from our first or second date.”
But it’s not the puppy love and smiling faces that Noah’s parents Jason and Suzanne Wille remember most.
“My dad had said ‘you see that sweatshirt I’m wearing? It’s upstairs in the closet and I’ve been waiting until we found this photo again to give this to you,’” says Wille. “It’s a bright orange coral color. It’s got this big like dark brown or black N on it with a big Nike logo that goes across it and it’s you know, a very 90’s crew cut sweatshirt.”
But to Jason Wille, it’s about more than just fabric and a logo.
“(He said) it’s been something I’ve wanted to pass down to you because I met a woman as wonderful as your mom, I’m hoping you can find someone just as wonderful,” shared Noah.
When Jason went upstairs to find the old crew neck, Suzanne’s heart sunk.
“She let my dad look for it for a little bit before she was like ‘um yeah that might be in the hunting clothes you donated to Goodwill about a month ago.’”
So Noah set out to find the sweatshirt.
“I went and looked at Goodwill, I went and looked at a couple of the other Goodwills knowing that they distribute to the other locations and spent hours and hours doing that and didn’t find it,” said Wille.
So the 19-year-old went to the internet.
“I’ve spent hours trying to find this on Google, I’ve found nothing. Like I’ve literally combed through every single Nike catalog that I could find from the ’90s, early 2000’s it’s nowhere,” said Wille. “At that point, I was like okay, I’ve got a decent following on TikTok and I was like I should post something about this and see, even if it gets a couple thousand views maybe we can get some traction on it.”
And it did, quickly.
“I was sitting there on my phone and it’s just blowing up I think I was eating dinner and I checked it and I had like 700 notifications and I was just like what is happening?” asked Wille. “I think it’s sitting at 640,000 views on TikTok so obviously it had went a lot further than I had hoped.”
Some of the responses have been dead ends.
“The 300 messages I received saying I have this sweatshirt that were obviously fake because I had everyone like hey send me a picture of the sweatshirt if you have it, obviously none of them did.”
While others have been helpful.
“I’ve gotten ‘Hey I’m from Illinois I’m driving three hours just to try and help you find this sweatshirt, we’re going to track it down’. This (other) guy he was from Texas but his sister was from Grinnell and he had said that she had possibly bought the sweatshirt and turned it into a crop top. That whole trend, thinking maybe she had bought the sweatshirt, fortunately, she did not.”
And some have taken things to another level.
“It started this whole trend of thinking hey whoever bought this sweatshirt, if they turn it into a crop top, that’s your soulmate, just like your dad had met your mom,” laughed Wille. “Eventually this mom had tried to say ‘Hey we’re going to find this sweatshirt so my daughter can turn it into a crop top and set me up with her.”
But a week later, Noah still hasn’t found the sweatshirt. “I think I’m still sitting at like an eight out of ten that we’re going to find it.”
Because now he believes this goes beyond fabric and a logo.
“I always have looked up to my parents as like a symbol of what love should be like. My parents are always super respectful of each other. They’re always super spontaneous, they’re just, they work right. So that sweatshirt as a way of how they kind of met each other it kind of provides me hope that I can have something like that in the future which will last as long as their relationship has.”
Some people may call him crazy.
“It’s a really small item and a lot of people are just thinking who cares, you know, it’s a sweatshirt but we’re all looking for a positive message and a positive light here and something that can bring us together in these hard times and I’m really hoping that this is something.”
But Noah refuses to give up.
“I’m still hoping and praying someone’s going to have it or somebody already does and they’re going to see the video or see this broadcast and be able to find it.”