Super CC’s Super Custom Shirts
Superhero. It’s a word we hear a lot these days. Superheroes rule the box office, with Marvel movies generating more than $21.3 billion over the last decade. They rule the world of comics and are the most common comic book genre in the United States. And they rule our hearts, as we seek to see ourselves in these champions of justice. Superheroes have fantastic powers, immeasurable strength, and bring joy to those they encounter, and if you’re willing to look, you can find real-life superheroes all around you every day.
Our story begins on October 30th, 2016 when then two-year-old CC was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. A normally bubbly and vivacious child, CC was subjected to grueling chemotherapy treatments for the next two and a half years. But even in the face of great adversity, she remained strong. “Since she loved superheroes as much as princesses, she soon became our ‘Super CC’,” her mother Emily says. In 2017, Emily signed up for their first CureSearch Superheroes Unite! Walk, an event designed to bring together the community to honor kids with cancer and celebrate their heroic strength, and started her first t-shirt fundraiser with Custom Ink. The shirts were designed online from CC’s hospital room and reflected the strength her daughter had shown. The event was a great success, but Emily knew the next year she could go even further.
In 2018, the CureSearch event came around again, and this time, Emily had even more time to prepare. While her last custom t-shirts had performed well, she knew she could make something even more amazing. “It was important to me that the shirts serve two functions. I wanted people to like the shirts enough that they not only make a one-time donation to our cause by purchasing a shirt, but they actually wear the shirts frequently and continue to raise awareness of our cause for years to come. This meant the shirt had to not only look cool but feel great too.” So Emily took CC and her older sister, Big Sis, to the Custom Ink store near their home in Charlottesville to create something worthy of her daughter’s incredible spirit, and there they were met with some powerful allies.
your own t-shirt fundraiser
Pick a great cause and a name.
Choose a bold color combination.
Create your design.
Set up the fundraiser.
Tell everyone you know.
When the Charlottesville store rep, Nathan Tavernis, met Emily and CC, he immediately connected with her story. “I love kids and have always connected with them,” he says, “but once I met CC in person, I was all in on doing anything I could to help her overcome this illness. Her energy, kindness, and contagious happiness won me over immediately.”
Emily’s original idea for the next custom shirt for her daughter was based on the Wonder Woman logo, but Nathan knew that there was a way to make the design even more special and to truly incorporate the spirit of the little girl he had met. So, after helping Emily find the perfect shirt for her fundraiser, he reached out to Custom Ink’s design team and connected Emily with another ally, top Custom Ink designer Rowena M., in order to create the perfect design. After a consultation, the perfect design was born: Super CC: Strong and Brave. “I was amazed at how the final product turned out,” Emily said, “I couldn’t believe how much better it was than anything I could have created myself.”
With a design created, Nathan helped Emily set up her Custom Ink Fundraiser and kick it off, but Nathan knew the shirts wouldn’t arrive until after the fundraiser was completed. To him, that was too long for a kid to have to wait. “I started following Emily’s CC: Strong and Brave Facebook and Instagram and saw how much she liked her shirts from past orders—she wore them everywhere. I wanted to surprise her because we had told her it would be about a month before she got her shirt.”
Nathan broke out the Charlottesville store’s secret weapon, an in-store screen printer, and invited CC and her mom to come back to the store. Together, they printed out the very first new shirt. “CC literally danced around the store,” he said. “She was so excited to be able to ‘print’ it herself. I let her grab the shirt off the rack and push the print button. Once the ink was cured I handed it to her, she hugged it, put it on, and danced some more.”
Now, CC is in remission and being watched closely for relapse over the next several years. Despite her trials, she has continued to be a brave hero, always with a shining smile on her face. “Although it was sometimes hard to share the toughest parts of this childhood cancer journey, we have done our best to document CC’s story on social media so that she can inspire others the way she inspires us,” Emily says. “We count ourselves extremely fortunate that she is doing well, but our lives are forever changed by this experience.”
As for Nathan, he and Emily still keep in touch so he can stay updated on CC’s journey. “This was one of the most incredible and inspirational experiences I have been a part of,” he says. “CC gave me a real perspective as to what is important in life and inspired me to love and care for everyone, even when I don’t really know them.”
Superheroes come in many shapes and sizes. They smile while fighting against great odds, work hard to keep their loved ones safe, and go above and beyond to bring joy to everyone they meet. So look around you and maybe you’ll discover that no matter where you are, there are heroes hidden in plain sight.
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If you’d like to support Emily in her fight against childhood cancer, follow CC on Facebook and Instagram or check out her fundraising page for the 2019 CureSearch Superheroes Unite! Campaign. Together, we can help find a cure and end cancer forever.