Friday, March 12, 2010

Faith, Family and FIRST


So, I am still on the Robotic high. I still get choked-up and emotional when reflecting on the magnitude of the awesomeness of all that has come to pass for this Team, but I think it is safe to say I am mellowing. A bit. I still blare I Gotta a Feeling at seven a.m. But the compulsion to raise my arms and shake pom-poms* has eased off. Either I am exhausted, or I have taken a calmer, more philosophical path.

*Personal side note: Pom-poms raised over head are an excellent distraction from my ahem "dancing."


Yeah. I got bit by the 2102 Team Spirit Bug, and it's swelling.

I don't know what blog traffic is doing here at Chickenblog. I do not monitor the statistics. I do know that comments took a nose dive. Oh my poor ego. So, I got a bit down about that, but then I see a link in Nikkipolani's blog, and I am blown back on course, bolstered, because someone gets it. And I read the emails and comments that have come in, and I open Beckie's sweet card... and I get psyched up again. You guys, and you know who you are, are good people. Good people say "hi." It's that simple. I know I am a bit crazed. My good friend Mark said... (hold on let me find it... ah, here it is:) "Jeeze, someone let a crazied hen loose on this issue. It's fun to see the fighting side of Natalie." I laugh out loud... he is right, though. I am like a hen on a junebug, fightin' for what I want. Feels good. So, I'll try not to let my tender ego get in the way of my hopes and goals. I'll keep trying to learn the Cha-Cha slide.


So, what are these pictures about, and what's this about "Faith, Family and FIRST?"

Well, these are a few images that exemplify a feeling... a feeling that we who support 2102 Team Paradox, who know FIRST, are privileged to enjoy. I have faith that we have made the right choices, for the Team, for our family. I have found that my family extends beyond the walls of our home. I love that because of 2102 Team Paradox and FIRST, my world has broadened.


I love that what began in kindergarten, and at home with Lego, grew. Robotics... it's been an interest and theme, a home school subject, a family pastime, for quite some time. And we have found a challenging, interesting, and active place to explore robotics... to be supported and supportive.


I love that we get to do this together... that we have time, or make time, or whatever... I love that. It does get hard. We do get tired and discouraged, but we can hold each other up, and catch our breaths.


I love that new people are inspired to participate, that they quickly realize how inspiring the Team is. I love that 2102 Team Paradox celebrates real skills, and homegrown spirit.


I love that 2102 Team Paradox and FIRST makes sisters in art and science, math and engineering.


I love that Maria wants to build a "Finding Robot," and that she wants cousin Izzy on the team too.


I love that someone will come forward to feed the team. Moms and dads that want what's best for students, and for their teachers and mentors, who give beyond the call of duty.


I love that a metal shop parking lot is a fine place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon... if you're building a robot, troubleshooting the design, grilling burgers...


I love that I get to live here, near my friends, in a beautiful community. The connections I have made here are more precious than I had dared to admit.


I love that FIRST and 2102 Team Paradox, are so good and worthwhile that even graduates will fly in for regionals, to mentor and cheer. I love that a dedicated team mom shows her faith by sticking with FIRST and the team she helped foster.

And now, laundry. Don't ever worry about me getting fancy... laundry, and other domestic perils, will always keep me humble.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Robotics, 2102 Team Paradox
This is an index for all things robotic, from the archives of Chickenblog.

Home School Science Fair: Alex's Tank-Bot: May 30, 2008. Alex challenged himself to make a robot from found objects and thrift shop salvaging. Then presented the results in a science fair.

The Best Made Plans: January 3, 2009. Alex attends his first FRC kick-off. Lunacy.

The Team To Cheer For: February 15, 2009. Introducing FIRST and 2102 Team Paradox to Chickenblog.

I Don't Have Time For This: March 5, 2009. Alex gets in to SDA. Life and details at the end of his first build season.

Brains and Spirit: March 7, 2009. Reporting from San Diego FRC, after 2102 takes The Team Spirit Award.

Oh. My. Goodness.: March 22, 2009. Phoenix FRC and a second Team Spirit Award.

Navigation, Forward Momentum and Balance: March 25, 2009. Life and details after Phoenix, and Alex's ride on a Segway, courtesy of Steve Sanghi, president, chairman and CEO of Microchip Technology Inc.

The Many Facets of Geekdom: January 10, 2010. Launch of build season for Breakaway. And getting Chickenblog organized for Geeks and Robotics.

After Breakfast, Before Robotics: February 12, 2010. Alex takes a quick break from robotics to attend the Sky Consortium Ball.

Look At Me Still Talking When There's Science To Do: February 16, 2010. Deep in build season, and enjoying the ride. Karen, Natalie and Tom grill lunch for the team. Life and details from the Bird House.

Me, Like A Chickadee: February 20, 2010. A good look at Geoff's programming and drive stations. He built them as programming mentor, so he could work more hours, more productively. Go Robotics!

It's In The Crate: February 23, 2010. Last night and morning of build season, before robot is crated and sent to San Diego Sports Arena.

BREAKAWAY! March 5, 2010. The eve before competition in San Diego.

Mini Parrot-Ox: March 6, 2010. From the first day of San Diego FRC, documenting Maria's team building skills.

More Than Spirit!!!!! March 6, 2010. Slowly realizing all of the merits of 2102 Team Paradox winning the Award for Engineering Inspiration.

This Is Big: March 7, 2010. Chickenblog celebrates 2102 Team Paradox and the invitation to compete in Atlanta.

This Is Getting Bigger: March 8, 2010. More about the Team, and FIRST, as Chickenblog rallies support for going to Nationals in Atlanta.

Paradox Colors: March 10, 2010. Describing FIRST Robotics, FRC and the personal journey 2120 Team Paradox takes to get to a regional competition. Maria and team mascots, a spirited relationship.

Faith, Family, and FIRST: March 12, 2010. What I love about 2102 Team Paradox and FIRST.





The Honor Roll :: Gratitude to 2102 Team Paradox Supporters, Through Chickenblog

You didn't have to do it, but you came forward anyway. Thank you.
For comments here, and on FB, for emails, and phone calls, and special deliveries... Toby, I know you're a good boy. For support and encouragement, good ideas, sponsorship, and donations. You guys are the best.

I will forever more think of you as one of The Team, honorary Paradoxen.



With beautiful answers, Laura Jane, Loving The Question

The quick responder, Amy Smith, Clearing The Air

The always encouraging, Lesley Z, Chapter III

A king of doing-it-himself, Warren, My Home Among The Hills
If they print any more T-shirts, I am scoring one for you.

Creative and skilled, Tami L, Lemon Tree Tales

Inspiring travel consultant, and Speculoos contact, Dallas, For The Journey

Never without a kind word, Andylynne

Supportive reader, Mary, Mary's Blog

Dear friend, Judy, Every Day Is A Gift

Fellow Chicken Lady, Em, Em and the Gang

My Northwoods Soul Sister, Janece, No Ordinary Moment

She makes you feel her hugs, like she is right beside you, Tracy, Pink Purl

The J Team behind the cameras, Cristina and Spencer

My Downtown Soul Sister and cousin, Priscilla M. Teachers get an A+

Friends like family, Mark S. and Jola P.

From the best little school in the west, Carol A and her beautiful family... filling up the arena with Team Spirit! Another A+ for teachers

Team pioneers and all around amazing people, Karen S, and Denise B

Best friend and wise counselor, Anna Banana.

The world's best barber, and friend, Daniel.

My big hearted and fun-loving cousin, Beckie DLR. besos

Always insightful, dear aunt Carol.

Hilarious and friendly, calls himself an "enigma," Paul N

A dynamic duo, Alison and Bill G. Come to Vegas, baby!

Thank you Holly, Ruth, Izzy... they came, they saw, and they can stand and deliver. You guys got Spirit!

She accentuates the positive every single day, Nikkipolani
I jumped out of my seat when I read her Friday Favorites post. Thank you!!!

To mom and dad, Team Players through and through, thank you, and welcome home. I hope a beautiful and comforting spring is just around the corner for you two.

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The Honor Roll

You didn't have to do it, but you came forward anyway. Thank you.
For comments here, and on FB, for emails, and phone calls, and special deliveries... Toby, I know you're a good boy. For support and encouragement, good ideas, sponsorship, and donations. You guys are the best.

I will forever more think of you as one of The Team, honorary Paradoxen.



With beautiful answers, Laura Jane, Loving The Question

The quick responder, Amy Smith, Clearing The Air

The always encouraging, Lesley Z, Chapter III

A king of doing-it-himself, Warren, My Home Among The Hills If they print any more T-shirts, I scoring one for you.

Creative and skilled, Tami L., Lemon Tree Tales

Inspiring travel consultant, and Speculoos contact, Dallas, For The Journey

Never without a kind word, Andylynne

Supportive reader, Mary, Mary's Blog

Dear friend, Judy, Every Day Is A Gift

Fellow Chicken Lady, Em, Em and the Gang

My Northwoods Soul Sister, Janece, No Ordinary Moment

The J Team behind the cameras, Cristina and Spencer

My Downtown Soul Sister and cousin, Priscilla M. Teachers get an A+

Friends like family, Mark S. and Jola P.

Team pioneers and all around amazing people, Karen S, and Denise B

Best friend and wise counselor, Anna Banana.

The world's best barber, and friend, Daniel.

My big hearted and fun-loving cousin, Beckie DLR. besos

Always insightful, dear aunt Carol.

Hilarious and friendly, calls himself an "enigma," Paul N

Thank you Holly, Ruth, Izzy... they came, they saw, and they can stand and deliver. You guys got Spirit!

Thank you James and Deanne, Parker and Sammy. You guys are awesome.

And to mom and dad, Team Players through and through, thank you, and welcome home. I hope a beautiful and comforting spring is just around the corner for you two.

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And Now For my 1,500th Post
Natalie + blogging + Blogger = fail

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Paradox Colors

Come on! I want to share how it's done.

Let's go to a FRC :: FIRST Regional Competition!

But, first we have to get ready...

2102 Team Paradox is a robotics club.
The club mentors teams in FIRST.
The club mentors teams in FIRST LEGO League.


The club gets girls involved in FIRST.
The club builds a robot for competition in FRC.
The club teaches new members how to use SoildWorks, so that design ideas can be real plans for the metal shop members of the club. The club makes parts for their robot and assembles the robot.


The club wires and programs the robot.


The club tests and prototypes, and fixes what does not work.
The club finds sponsors... awesome sponsors!


The club creates original art for buttons, T-shirts and banners.
The club makes their own buttons, silk screens their own T-shirts.
The club designs and hand sews plushies... stuffed Parrot-Oxen that we share as alliance building gifts at competition.


Now, mentors and teachers... after work, can you please come to the metal shop, to the photo-class? The club needs you to supervise, guide, trouble-shoot, get dirty, get out of the way, jump-in, program, design, teach, learn, laugh, wear red pants, keep us on track for build and marketing, and stay until 10 PM 11pm 12 Am through April?!

Parents. Ready? The club needs you to pretend you have about fifty hungry teenage children. Keep them fed, healthy, and on track. The club needs rides, and support, and encouragement. The club needs your faith that what is happening is the real deal... prestigious, educational, life altering... the chance of a lifetime to be recognized by the best schools, corporations and thinkers in the world. Help us be 2102 Team Paradox, good students, fulfilled and happy. And get ready to stand up and cheer... every. single. time. all. day. for. everybody. Seriously.

Crate that robot.
Pack those pom-poms.
Grades up!
Permission slips in.
Rides for all.
Lots of food packed.
Tools in the trunk.
Forms turned in.
Uniforms on.
Breakaway!


So, we are in the arena.
There are 49 teams here. Half of the arena is for the 10'x10' pits for each team, and the other half for the fans and the game field. Take the robot through its tune-up and inspection.


Make fixes. Talk to judges. Assist other teams. Wear those goggles. Be gracious. Be professional. Be safe. Inspire Engineering!


Meet the teams. Build alliances. This is a competition and an event... an opportunity to learn and grow, to make friends, to celebrate business, art, math, science, and the sport of making the world take notice of the best and brightest students.


Time to show our spirit, and this means sportsmanship that blows away anything in diplomacy and fun that you have ever witnessed in your life, so get up and dance. Shout!


FIRST NOW, sleep later.


2102 Team Paradox Cheers

We are proud of you
Say, we are proud of you!


What time is it?! Midnight!

When I say "Parrot," you say "Ox!"
Parrot! Ox!


Cue the "Chicken Dance" and we get funky with it...
I don't wanna be a parrot (flap wings)
I don't wanna be an ox (show your horns)
So I shake my butt 2-1-0-2 (shake it Paradox!)
repeat

Wake up the arena:
We've got spirit, yes we do.
We've got spirit, how 'bout you?!


Go robotics! GO ROBOTICS!

Now you see what I'm talkin' about.

Your support and encouragement are fuel for our souls. The good things transpiring have energized me, brought me to tears of joy, and redoubled my determination to never give up, never surrender!

I have learned from our Foundation that earmarking donations for "Academic Council-Robotics" is very important and this is done in the PayPal section. Checks work too! These can be sent to me (email me for details) or directly to the Foundation.

Please make checks payable to SDAF-Robotics and mail directly:
SDAF
P.O. Box 235109
Encinitas, CA 92024


It don't matter if you're young or old...
Now walk it by yourself...












































If Maria can dance, and cheer for sixteen hours over two days, and pass out four hundred Paradox chocolate eggs, you can show spirit too!

GO Robotics!

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Monday, March 08, 2010

This Is Getting Bigger

Updating Our "Robotics to Atlanta" campaign:

Thank you. Gracias. Mahalo. Dankeschön. Toda Raba. Domo Arigato.

Your support and encouragement are fuel for our souls. The good things transpiring have energized me, brought me to tears of joy, and redoubled my determination to never give up, never surrender!


I have learned from SDA Foundation that earmarking donations for "Academic Council-Robotics" is very important and this is done in the PayPal section. Checks work too! These can be sent to me (email me for details) or directly to the Foundation.

Please make checks payable to SDAF-Robotics and mail directly:
SDAF
P.O. Box 235109
Encinitas, CA 92024


In other news: The ratty-rats are fine. Betty is laying. Joe is still the world's oldest rabbit. Max is happy that this is conference week. William, Alex, Geoff and Max thought Avatar should have won an Academy Award in every category, including "Best Use of Sigourney Weaver," "Best Foreign Language," "Best Movie Ever Nominated." Geeks.

Please keep praying, meditating, cheering, searching, supporting and celebrating with us. Thank you.



photo credit to Denise B.

Welcome to Chickenblog. Today I want to use this space to recognize, celebrate and promote FIRST and Team Paradox, of Team San Diego. If you regularly read this blog, then you know I love Robotics and all things Geek. If you are new to Chickenblog... welcome to our family scrapbook, where for almost eight years, I have been chronicling our ups, downs, ins and outs, my deepest thoughts and other musings. This has always been a personal space, that has slowly expanded and grown. Now I want to go to another level in communication and outreach. I need your help to achieve my goals.


In the last twenty four hours I have learned that dedication and heartfelt spirit can take a Team a very long way, but to get to the next level it takes daring faith and a willingness to reach out to the world for that extra push. I want to make the push. I cannot contain my emotions, or my determination to get 2102 Team Paradox to the next level.

At FRC, this weekend, Team Paradox played Breakaway with diligent, tireless determination, and courage. Our robot held together and we are already preparing to breakout at our next regional competition.

Were we discouraged not to make it to the final rounds? Yes, but we were not defeated. In the arena, across the grandstands, no one could miss the team that never sat down, that never stopped cheering, that never surrendered. Team Paradox cheered for the underdog, for the math, for the mentors and parents, for the kids from across town, out of state and across an ocean. We cheered for the love of working together to build a robot and to build relationships with our families, our schools, our community and the world. And we did not stop until the end... and not really even then.


We cannot ever lose, because there are so many ways to win, when you are a part of FIRST.

This journey began when the team started over three years ago. Many of those founding team members have graduated and gone on to universities, but they have not moved away all together. Team Paradox has a lasting and supportive core of members that return to mentor, support and stay with the Team. When Alex joined last year, he was coming from another school in the district. He was warmly welcomed. Last year, in San Diego we got our first taste of how amazing FRC is. The regional competitions have no equal for sporting-engineering fun. Wild, intense, fun.


This year we have more new members than ever before, and the team is as strong as ever. The energy and determination of the freshmen class, combined with the experience and dedication of the rest of the team is a winning combination. We have mentors that are as steadfast and focused as the students, willing to step in, or step back. The mentors have staying power. The team is supported by teachers, parents, siblings, the community, and some great sponsors.

Last year we broke new ground and became an award winning team. In San Diego and in Phoenix, Team Paradox 2102 won the Spirit Award :: "This award celebrates extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit through exceptional partnership and teamwork." We believed we had as good a chance at earning this award again... no kidding, you have not seen spirit until you have been with us through sixteen hours of regional competitions!

So.
Back to this year's FIRST Regional Competition...

We did not make it to finals.
We did not win the Spirit Award.
It was getting down to the wire, wrap up time.
Then something wonderful happened.

This year's Regional Engineering Inspiration Award to 2102 Team Paradox!


I think we experienced all of the emotions last night, but mostly joy and shock. We were over the moon to be there. We were totally stoked to take home such a distinguished award. But the biggest news of all spread slowly. We were a bit confused actually... things got kind of surreal as it very slowly dawned on us that the "Regional Engineering Inspiration Award" includes an invitation to Finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

One more time: The Regional Engineering Inspiration Award includes an invitation to Finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

Check. Double check. Confirm.

Can this be for real?

Well, it can be for real. We can go to Atlanta and compete in the FIRST National Finals, but we are going to have to redouble efforts that have already been extreme. The students, teachers, mentors and families have given their best and it has paid off. The design team excelled. The build team excelled. The marketing team excelled. We gave 100%, so we could excel... we just didn't know it would take us this far!


Team Paradox is about outreach, in our families, in our schools, in our communities, in FIRST.


Team Paradox is about experienced members guiding and encouraging new members, so that our future is as strong as our foundation.


Team Paradox is about believing in science and math, art and community, believing in our students, and loving all of it!


Team Paradox is about supporting and nurturing everyone on the Team.


I will never forget the power and awesomeness of these last few days, and I do not want to stop here. I do not want our memories to be a blur. I do not want to pass up an amazing opportunity. We need help to get this Team to Atlanta, to the Olympic Stadium. Our resources and energy are nearly tapped. We have one more regional to get through. These are huge events that take a lot of money, time, effort and brain power to coordinate. Please help us.

I need your help to achieve my goals. All of this is going on while the students are in school. They have homework, testing, classes... the works, and unfortunately the school does not support the Team as "a team." In the eyes of the school we are "only a club." No disrespect, but "teams" get a lot of attention and support from their schools, and we need support. Our mentors, the teachers work their day jobs, and then they give all of their "free time" to Robotics. This next level, that we are so hopeful to reach, needs more support, for us to attain it.

Chickenblog has a few readers out there... right? Hello. Hello? If you are out there, please leave a comment today. Please say "GO ROBOTICS!" Please move a ton of traffic here. Please suggest ideas and give advice. Please give me contacts and suggestions. Please step forward with your skills and connections. Please help us raise funds, get sponsors, and bring a winning team to Atlanta. We need you. Anything might help.


We stood and cheered for all forty eight teams in the arena, today I humbly ask you to cheer for us.

Thank you.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

This Is Big


photo credit to Denise B.

Welcome to Chickenblog. Today I want to use this space to recognize, celebrate and promote FIRST and Team Paradox, of Team San Diego. If you regularly read this blog, then you know I love Robotics and all things Geek. If you are new to Chickenblog... welcome to our family scrapbook, where for almost eight years, I have been chronicling our ups, downs, ins and outs, my deepest thoughts and other musings. This has always been a personal space, that has slowly expanded and grown. Now I want to go to another level in communication and outreach. I need your help to achieve my goals.


In the last twenty four hours I have learned that dedication and heartfelt spirit can take a Team a very long way, but to get to the next level it takes daring faith and a willingness to reach out to the world for that extra push. I want to make the push. I cannot contain my emotions, or my determination to get 2102 Team Paradox to the next level.

At FRC, this weekend, Team Paradox played Breakaway with diligent, tireless determination, and courage. Our robot held together and we are already preparing to breakout at our next regional competition.

Were we discouraged not to make it to the final rounds? Yes, but we were not defeated. In the arena, across the grandstands, no one could miss the team that never sat down, that never stopped cheering, that never surrendered. Team Paradox cheered for the underdog, for the math, for the mentors and parents, for the kids from across town, out of state and across an ocean. We cheered for the love of working together to build a robot and to build relationships with our families, our schools, our community and the world. And we did not stop until the end... and not really even then.


We cannot ever lose, because there are so many ways to win, when you are a part of FIRST.

This journey began when the team started over three years ago. Many of those founding team members have graduated and gone on to universities, but they have not moved away all together. Team Paradox has a lasting and supportive core of members that return to mentor, support and stay with the Team. When Alex joined last year, he was coming from another school in the district. He was warmly welcomed. Last year, in San Diego we got our first taste of how amazing FRC is. The regional competitions have no equal for sporting-engineering fun. Wild, intense, fun.


This year we have more new members than ever before, and the team is as strong as ever. The energy and determination of the freshmen class, combined with the experience and dedication of the rest of the team is a winning combination. We have mentors that are as steadfast and focused as the students, willing to step in, or step back. The mentors have staying power. The team is supported by teachers, parents, siblings, the community, and some great sponsors.

Last year we broke new ground and became an award winning team. In San Diego and in Phoenix, Team Paradox 2102 won the Spirit Award :: "This award celebrates extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit through exceptional partnership and teamwork." We believed we had as good a chance at earning this award again... no kidding, you have not seen spirit until you have been with us through sixteen hours of regional competitions!

So.
Back to this year's FIRST Regional Competition...

We did not make it to finals.
We did not win the Spirit Award.
It was getting down to the wire, wrap up time.
Then something wonderful happened.

This year's Regional Engineering Inspiration Award to 2102 Team Paradox!


I think we experienced all of the emotions last night, but mostly joy and shock. We were over the moon to be there. We were totally stoked to take home such a distinguished award. But the biggest news of all spread slowly. We were a bit confused actually... things got kind of surreal as it very slowly dawned on us that the "Regional Engineering Inspiration Award" includes an invitation to Finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

One more time: The Regional Engineering Inspiration Award includes an invitation to Finals in Atlanta, Georgia.

Check. Double check. Confirm.

Can this be for real?

Well, it can be for real. We can go to Atlanta and compete in the FIRST National Finals, but we are going to have to redouble efforts that have already been extreme. The students, teachers, mentors and families have given their best and it has paid off. The design team excelled. The build team excelled. The marketing team excelled. We gave 100%, so we could excel... we just didn't know it would take us this far!


Team Paradox is about outreach, in our families, in our schools, in our communities, in FIRST.


Team Paradox is about experienced members guiding and encouraging new members, so that our future is as strong as our foundation.


Team Paradox is about believing in science and math, art and community, believing in our students, and loving all of it!


Team Paradox is about supporting and nurturing everyone on the Team.


I will never forget the power and awesomeness of these last few days, and I do not want to stop here. I do not want our memories to be a blur. I do not want to pass up an amazing opportunity. We need help to get this Team to Atlanta, to the Olympic Stadium. Our resources and energy are nearly tapped. We have one more regional to get through. These are huge events that take a lot of money, time, effort and brain power to coordinate. Please help us.

I need your help to achieve my goals. All of this is going on while the students are in school. They have homework, testing, classes... the works, and unfortunately the school does not support the Team as "a team." In the eyes of the school we are "only a club." No disrespect, but "teams" get a lot of attention and support from their schools, and we need support. Our mentors, the teachers work their day jobs, and then they give all of their "free time" to Robotics. This next level, that we are so hopeful to reach, needs more support, for us to attain it.

Chickenblog has a few readers out there... right? Hello. Hello? If you are out there, please leave a comment today. Please say "GO ROBOTICS!" Please move a ton of traffic here. Please suggest ideas and give advice. Please give me contacts and suggestions. Please step forward with your skills and connections. Please help us raise funds, get sponsors, and bring a winning team to Atlanta. We need you. Anything might help.


We stood and cheered for all forty eight teams in the arena, today I humbly ask you to cheer for us.

Thank you.

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