Serena’s Crusaders Raise Money to Fight Epilepsy, One T-Shirt at a Time

Children participating in Sharon's Ride.Run.Walk for Epilepsy

“Pace” is a word that every good runner knows by heart. It’s a word most people can identify, but one that very few practice in their everyday lives. It’s a word that, over the last few years, has come to mean a lot to Smitha Arons. An avid runner, Arons is also a full-time attorney and community organizer, as well as wife to her husband Mike, and mother to five-year-old Serena and seven-year-old drew. The only “pace” she knows is “neck-breaking warp-speed.”
Serena's Crusaders Raise Funds to Help Support Epilepsy Research

But nearly four years ago, Arons’ life changed forever. Her daughter, Serena, then just 18 months old, was diagnosed with
epilepsy, a neurological disorder most popularly characterized by recurring seizures and other sensory disturbances in the brain. Now five, Serena lives as normal a life as possible for someone affected by the disorder.

“She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” Arons tells us. “She’s incredible. She never uses epilepsy as an excuse, and never lets any of it hold her back from living a normal life.”

Running for a Reason

Following Serena’s diagnosis, Arons dove head first into the world of running, becoming one of the chapter co-leaders of Moms Run This Town San Diego, a blogger for Running with SD Mom, founded America’s Finest Fitness Bloggers and is an ambassador for several companies and organizations.

San Diego mom Smitha Arons with her daughter, Serena.“To me, running and organizing this community is to give myself something to think about other than worrying about Serena,” Arons says.  “But it’s also about showing her that mommy is just as proud and brave as she is. I went from being terrified of a 5k in May of 2013 to preparing for my first marathon at the end of February 2015.” (Editor’s note: A full marathon is 26.2 miles!)

Arons also says that Sharon’s Ride.Run.Walk for Epilepsy is an excellent way for families and individuals affected by epilepsy to come together, support one another, and proudly identify as not just a group, but an entire community.

Buy a Shirt & Join The Fight Against Epilepsy – Proceeds to Epilepsy Foundation

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Arons’ latest charitable endeavor hits very close to home. On April 26, 2015, she and her team, Serena’s Crusaders, will participate in Sharon’s Ride.Run.Walk for Epilepsy in her city of San Diego. In order to help raise money for the event and get her team closer to their $10,000 goal, she has partnered with Rush Order Tees to help design and print custom t-shirts.

More than just t-shirts, these pieces of fabric will come with a message – about the importance of pace.

“I thought long and hard about what I wanted the t-shirts to say, and in the end, I settled on ‘Pace Yourself,’ because it applies to more than just running,” she tells us. “Enjoy the moment of this day. Every day without a seizure or an accident is a good day, and one that needs to be cherished. And just as in running, pacing oneself and taking the time to enjoy – truly enjoy – every good moment is priceless.”

Join Serena’s Crusaders for a Great Cause

Sharon's Ride.Run.Walk organizer's at the 2014 marathon.

According to Arons, approximately 25 percent of the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego’s annual operating budget comes from this one event. The Sharon’s Ride.Run.Walk for Epilepsy website predicts almost 3,000 people will participate in this year’s event.

“The t-shirts will serve as a reminder to me and everyone who wears them to pace ourselves and enjoy all the beautiful moments we have in our lives – with our families, our friends, and each other,” she said.

Proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will go directly toward Serena’s Crusaders’ $10,000 fundraising goal for the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego.

“The running has given me a hobby and an interest, and a way to inspire others to be healthy and live in the moment,” she says. “But I’m not just interested in the running, I’m interested in the cause. The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego is the only service of its kind in San Diego, so giving them our support is essential.”

To purchase a commemorative Pace Yourself t-shirt, click here.


FIRST Robotics: Tips & Hints From The MidKnight Inventors

first robotics competition

Who Are The MidKnight Inventors?

The world of competitive robotics is an interesting one, to say the least. And it’s probably a lot larger than you’d think. Thousands of students from all over the world – everyone from future engineers to future accountants and public relations specialists – compete annually, among several different leagues and organizations, for the ultimate chance to make their towns, their schools, their teams and friends proud.

For Libby Kamen, it started her freshman year of high school. Libby knew she wanted to be involved in the sport, but her school, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North, in Plainsboro, N.J., didn’t have a robotics club. So, she, along with three fellow students founded The MidKnight Inventors.

They were disorganized, had very few resources, and had to teach themselves how to run a robotics team from the ground up. They didn’t win the world championship. Heck, they didn’t even place in the regionals. But that was never the point.

From Robotics Club to Robotics Champions

The 2014 MidKnight Inventors FRC Team Photo

Ten years later, The MidKnight Inventors now comprise 109 students from two different high schools in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District. They compete annually in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition, and have placed in – and won – New Jersey regionals, have been invited to the FIRST World Championships four times, and have experienced explosive growth over the last few years.

“It has been an incredible experience watching the team try so hard to get where they are,” Libby told us. “As the team has grown and more resources are made available to us, we’ve been able to devote the time to perfect things, and it really means a lot to see how far they’ve come.”

Turning Robotics Competition Into Robotics Business

The MidKnight Inventors robotics club Logo

With so many MidKnight Inventors, the team is split into sub-teams to help manage and regulate the flow of work, Libby says. Different sub-teams include the building and construction team, the electrical team, the programming team, and the graphic design teams. There are even teams for things like business outreach, finance and public relations, who maintain the team’s “branding” and ensure The MidKnight Inventors’ public image is solid.

“Finance” you ask? Believe it or not, there’s a lot of logistical behind-the-curtains stuff that goes on, Libby says. The MidKnight Inventors have an annual operations budget of $75,000 – yes, seventy-five; seven-five. It may sound like a lot, but when you think about it, taking care of over 100 students, getting them to competitions (which sometimes requires flying), feeding them at the meets, ordering merchandise, etc., isn’t free!

MidKnight Inventors FIRST Team 1923 “We have to fundraise that all on our own,” she tells us, explaining that the team is always looking for new sponsors, and accepts donations from both large corporations and smaller, more local businesses. “Our team members will go make presentations at other companies, and we work hard for every dollar we raise. It’s a crucial part of our infrastructure.”

The $75,000 goes toward things like registration for competitions, parts, team travel, team apparel and merchandise, and helping the younger teams The MidKnight Inventors sponsor and mentor – The MidKnight Minis (Jr. FLL), The MidKnight Minions (FLL), and The MidKnight Magic (FTC). They also sponsor and mentor a LEGO Robotics League (FLL) team from India called the Sherlock Ohms!

Don’t let that number scare you off! Realistically, for smaller teams, “operating expenses” are usually much less. The minimum registration fee is $5,000, and there are “rookie grants” made available by FIRST to newer teams, as well as plenty of local grants for students interested in the world of competitive robotics building. Just don’t allow the idea of fundraising to slip into the void behind the back of your mind.

Tips for New Teams

All The MidKnight Inventors' robots

The whole point of these competitions is to foster a respect for science and engineering, and make sure these students are excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, while helping them apply the things they’re passionate about to a real-world environment, Libby says.

“What I love about recruiting new team members is that we can grab a kid that’s interested in, say, graphic design, and allow them to work on our website, on our logos, and all of these other things,” she explains. “Now they have a chance to take what they care about and do it in a professional environment. Are you handy? Do you like computers? Do you like writing? Great! You have a place on a FIRST team.”

For newer teams, Libby says it’s very important to develop and cultivate the relationships that FIRST is all about. For instance, The MidKnight Inventors is a partnership between mentors, sponsors, and students. Each group and each sub-team has their own part to play in a very complex production.

“Without our mentors, our sponsors, and the community, we’d still be four kids with no idea what they’re doing,” she says. “The help that the FIRST community has given us is what brings us success – it truly takes a village.”

Another piece of advice Libby offers to teams is the importance of merchandizing – shirts for team members and volunteers, as well as support gear for friends, family, and fans, are all invaluable to the fundraising process.

Libby recalls her first interaction with Rush Order Tees, who she has worked with for the past nine years to provide The MidKnight Inventors with all of their custom apparel:

“It was the week before regional, and we had entirely forgotten to order our team shirts. I Google’d ‘Rush order tees’ and naturally, came up! Rush Order Tees walked me through what I was going to need – sponsor logos, team name, fonts, and everything else – and everyone we worked with was just so nice.

design your own

“Admittedly, it was a frantic accident, but from that moment forward, we’ve always had such a great experience that it has become our go-to [company to use], and at this point it’s not because we need things quickly anymore, but because we’ve developed a relationship with the company and we know they’re going to treat us right.”

Taking the Leap and Getting Involved

The MidKnight Inventors FIRST Robotics Club Assembling Their Robot

There are a few different leagues and organizations that host such wide-scale competitions, Libby says, including organizations like VEX Robotics Competition, BEST Robotics, and Botball. FIRST is an international league and since its founding in 1989, thousands of teams from 65 different countries have competed in its tournaments.

All FIRST teams are required to purchase the official Kit of Parts to build their robot, and parameters are set by FIRST officials. The game and competition requirements change annually, but each team must meet the same general guidelines in order to compete.

For more information on the FIRST Robotics Competition, visit the FIRST website here. And for more information on how to donate to, sponsor, or become involved with The MidKnight Inventors, visit their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Inked T-Shirt Designs

try custom ink screen printing techniques

Whether you’re a contractor looking to spread the word about your business, a group preparing for a big charity run, a school spreading good spirit, or everyone in between, custom t-shirts begin and end with one word – creativity.

Your creative juices were flowing when you drafted up the design – whether it’s a simple and elegant logo for your business, or a brain-bending piece of t-shirt gold, you spent your time and effort making it happen.

design your own

But a winning t-shirt or piece of custom apparel is more than just a design – it’s a final product. And that’s where we come in. Our team takes pride in being industry experts in all types of custom color printing, using traditional methods and cutting edge technology to develop new methods of mixing conductive properties that allow for multi-dimensional creativity.

Inked T-Shirts for Every Occasion

custom ink screen printing and methods

When it comes to custom t-shirts, we are the industry’s innovators. While traditional screen printing is our most popular service, we offer alternatives, like Direct to Garment printing, which utilizes ink jet printers (sort of like the ones you use to print out term papers and spending reports) to print very highly detailed designs onto t-shirts and other garments.

We also offer PermaPress printing, which is a method by which a high quality image is printed onto a piece of vinyl, and then transposed onto a piece of apparel. Because of the durability of the vinyl used in the process, these types of apparel prove to be very durable and withstand years of continuous wash and wear.

Looking to really step out of the box and take your design even further? Call about our glow-in-the-dark ink, where we add a special ingredient to make your shirts glow! Or, if you are into some tech creativity, perhaps customizing your colors with conductive material for an application using Touchcodes from T-ink is more your flavor.  Imagine having your customers use t-shirts to react with smart phones and scanners for use with ticket sales, promotional offers, and so much more.

Technological Innovation in Inked Tee Printing

we create custom inks for your apparel designs

We use the highest quality inks available on the market. From clean, vivid, high-quality plastisol inks to versatile and environmentally friendly water-based inks, we understand that our customers’ designs can only be as good as the materials used to produce them – so we use the best of the best.

At Rush Order Tees, we bring your custom apparel to life. Whether you want your ink to glow in the dark or take on a mind of its own, we’re using the latest custom color combinations to change the way your customers, friends, clients, supporters, and fans wear your apparel.

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Our customers know we’re the best in the business, and they love talking about us. Of the thousands of reviews they’ve been kind enough to write, we’re super proud to say that we have a 99.8% customer satisfaction rate. Yes, you read that right – 99.8% customer satisfaction. We specialize in rush deliveries, offer fast free shipping on all orders, boast some of the fastest turnaround times in the industry, and offer every single customer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. We strive for un-paralleled excellence, and leave zero room for error in getting your order right the first time – every time.

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design your own