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Tornado survivor wins ThunderCloud design contest


In January of 2012, we brought you the story of Mike Bennett and Terri Caldwell, whose freshly remodeled home was one of several damaged by a tornado in the Walnut Place subdivision in Northeast Austin.

The misery didn’t end there for the couple or their then-10-year-old daughter, Madison. They say an unscrupulous contractor took their money and disappeared.

The house remains a work in progress — they’re doing the work themselves — but Caldwell finally has some good news: Her design was named winner of the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot art contest, meaning her retro, wood cut-like image will be on 20,000 Turkey Trot T-shirts, posters and ads.

Caldwell, now 48, says she beat out more than 60 other contestants, which gave her ego a much-needed boost.

“I’ve always wanted to be an artist,” Caldwell said. “Winning this contest has really helped me with my confidence.”

Caldwell’s prize, in addition to valuable exposure to promote the Thanksgiving Day foot race and fundraiser, is 365 vouchers from the venerable local sandwich shop. A “serious, non-gluttonous person” could make those last for a year, but that’s not in the cards for this family

“When we go we get five subs,” she said. “My husband is a big man and he works hard and he likes to eat. Sometimes we give them to homeless people. I’ve been there because of the tornado.”

With validation of her efforts from Thundercloud, Caldwell is building a we site, 13-odd-dogs.com, and is at work on a new sign and logo for a sewing shop. She’s hoping her measure of renown will lead to more paying gigs.

“Starving is not good and ramen gives me headaches,” Caldwell said.

So will she go to the race to see all those people wearing her design, which looks a little like a Michael Priest poster for a show at the old Armadillo World Headquarters? Maybe.

“I’d love to go, but I’m crowd-phobic,” she said. “I’ll probably go because I’m a stalker like that.”


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