It was easy for Gardner to make friends because of his active and positive personality, something his parents, Brian and Pam, love about him. For Gardner though, coming from an interracial family with his father being black and his mother being white, he experienced problematic comments made toward the color of his skin.
“Growing up, I experienced racism, but I never really pieced it all together until just recently,” he said. “The comments like ‘I wish I was tan like you,’ ‘you’re an oreo,’ ‘of course you are fast,’ really just came across to me as a joke and I never really looked too deep into it. Looking back on it, those comments could be classified as systematic racism, I was just too young to comprehend the meaning behind it."
"In terms of dealing with it now, it is all about educating others. People don’t know what they don’t know, and it is important to educate so that systematic racism does not continue to be so prevalent.”
Gardner’s closeness to his family has always been an important part of his life and as he grew up, he realized the positive impact they were making on his life – especially his mother, Pam.