Mays' Friendly Face


When we think about the month of May, maybe mothers, flowers, or summer vacation come to mind. For us, it is also recognized as ALS month. At Small Town Big Family we want to observe this and help educate people about this disease the world knows so little about. This month, STBF Faces, is highlighting our friend and family member Tom. He is a professionally trained graphic designer, photographer, and a fine artist of many different types of disciplines from MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design). He started his own art and graphic design service and studio called Eighty Art & Design: The brick and mortar is located in Sheboygan, WI.


We chose Tom for this months featured STBF friendly face to help bring awareness to ALS and show our gratitude for him. He is the artist who helped us create the STBF Wendall Line, which is Small Town Big Familys’ first donation based line of hats. The turtle is known to symbolize longevity, endurance, persistence, and the continuation of life (sometimes against incredible odds).  We chose the turtle it to help remind people to hold onto HOPE. Together, we can bring awareness to ALS and to help fund the science behind finding a cure for this disease and so many other ones.

Tom, who is also my nephew, lost his mother and our sister Wendy, to ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a specific disease that causes the death of neurons that control your voluntary muscles. Long story short, essentially the brain and muscles lose communication. At this time there is no known cure for ALS, and unfortunately, is eventually fatal.


Together we wanted to create a donation based hat line to help raise awareness for a disease that affects 5000 new people each year in the U.S alone (based on U.S. population studies). At Eighty Art & Design, his art and graphic design skills were used to come up with the turtle art for the Small Town Big Family hats. Proceeds from these hat sales will go directly to help fund science research. He also has many other art pieces online and in studio. Tom has been an artist since he was a young child, and in turn this craft helped with the healing process of watching someone you love go through the many changes of ALS. This turtle is the art that represents his mother...our sister...your friend. The turtle spirit animal has highly symbolic meanings of longevity, endurance, persistence, and the continuation of life (sometimes against incredible odds).


Tom also puts together fundraisers at his art gallery and studio, as well as open houses for artists from surrounding communities. He is an integrated and inspiring addition to the art community in our area, with his unique vision and contemporary studio space (which is just like his moms style:). Check the website for upcoming open houses, new artwork, and his latest projects. Looking for products shots or artsy photos for the web? He is available to take and edit photos, for your business or personal online presence. It’s a beautiful gallery and studio space, so together you can create and build your brand. Give Tom Rauwerdink a shout to explore what the company, Eighty Art & Design, can do for you.


We will be featuring our newest Wendall Line design at our May ALS Awareness Event on Saturday, May 18th from 8am-12pm held at Off The Rail Café in Elkhart Lake, WI. Come visit us and the smiling staff at Off The Rail to show your support (and of course, eat and drink some deliciousness). Proceeds from the hat sales, as well as a percentage of food and drink sales, will be donated to the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at John Hopkins. Thanks for reading this months blog post and we look forward to seeing you there.

Jennifer Liermann