Waco t-shirt business spreading mental health awareness

WACO, Texas — After mental health struggles took the life of 29-year-old Joshua Zarazua, his brother Ronnie Zarazua is working to keep his brother’s name alive. 

Ronnie Zarazua created the t-shirt business ‘Panda Puka’ to spread mental health awareness for people suffering in the community. 

‘Panda Puka goes back to when we were kids,” Zarazua explained. “I used to get bullied a lot and the kids used to call me Ronnie Parapuka, making fun of my name. Well, my brother used that idea and changed my nickname to Panda Puka.”

Joshua Zarazua was even referred to as Panda Puka when he started his MMA career around 2012. He was a well-liked figure in both the MMA and Central Texas scenes.

 Ronnie Zarazua says he and his brother had an incredible relationship and they both had each other’s back.

“We instilled discipline and drive into one another,” Zarazua explained. 

Zarazua says his brother did have his own personal struggles outside of the mat.

“He suffered from depression and mental health,” Zarazua explained. “His mental health was on the decline.”

Joshua Zarazua succumbed to his mental health struggles in Jan 2023. 

Despite the tragedy having a large impact on the Zarazua family, Ronnie used the ‘Panda Puka’ inspiration to create a t-shirt business dedicated to spreading mental health awareness.

Most of the t-shirt designs feature a panda, and all include a semi-colon, a symbol of solidarity for mental health survivors.

“I’m here to spread awareness on mental health, but not just talking about it,” Zarazua explained. 

On average, there are 132 suicides per day, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Zarazua has collaborated with his mother, Oh My Goodness Vinyl and other mental health advocators in the community to make this vision possible. He hopes to spread positivity and awareness by branching out to eventually make ‘Panda Puka World’.

“Panda Puka World will be action,” Zarazua said. “It will be the solution to the problem.”

100% of the proceeds from Panda Puka will be donated to a foundation for mental health. The hope is to remove the financial burden for the next person who may be battling with mental health struggles.

Shirt prices start at $10. To support the business, more information can be found here.

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