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Custom sandals in memory of teacher killed by falling tree raise more than $20,000 for nonprofit

Brooke Sampson was killed in February 2020 when a tree fell onto a van she was riding on in Townsend.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — More than 100 people are remembering the life of 36-year-old Brooke Sampson in a special way — with Chacos sandals. Loved ones say she had around 50 pairs of them for all occasions and wore them everywhere.

She was killed in February 2020 when a tree fell onto a van that she was in, along with her husband. She is remembered as a Sevier County teacher who loved people, especially children. Sampson is also remembered for her faith and willingness to help anyone.

Her friends and family say she left a major impact on her community and now people will be able to spot her legacy all across East Tennessee. They designed custom Chacos to remember her. They are teal and black, with the phrase "Hey Friend!" written in some white thread.

Credit: WBIR

The fourth-grade teacher's passing left those closest to her wanting to do something in her memory.

"Brooke made people smile constantly, and that's what we want to help do," said Stephen Houser with Stages West, a Pigeon Forge store that Sampson occasionally worked at.

Sampson's sister, Jessica Brown, said they collaborated with Stages West to create the footwear. Teal was her favorite color, and "hey friend" was a saying she had been known for.

"When you put on these Chacos you can go and serve like Brooke served," said Tabatha Smith, her friend. 

More than 150 pairs were sold with all donations going towards nonprofit Isaiah 117 House in Sevier County. It is dedicated to helping and housing foster children.

"Anyone that was ever around Brooke knew the love and compassion she had and her love for children," said Houser. 

In total, they raised more than $20,000 to support the nonprofit. April Gillispie with the nonprofit says the donation was much needed.

"When God steps in, it's just so bountiful and such a blessing," she said.

All are proud of what they've accomplished to keep her memory alive. There are still several pairs of shoes available to purchase. Anyone interesting in buying one can contact Stages West in Pigeon Forge at (865) 453-8086.

"Her legacy is still serving even though she's not physically here with us anymore," said Smith.