Mud. Mud everywhere. That's what awaits participants in the April Fool’s Challenge. The race stretches across more than four miles of obstacles, forcing runners to scale walls and pass through the frigid waters of Deer Creek. After finishing their muddy trek, runners arrive back at the starting point, Founders Field, home of Pittsburgh Harlequins Rugby. Here, they can take a much-needed shower, wind down at the afterparty, and celebrate the fact that they've just done a bit of good—proceeds from the challenge benefit the Pittsburgh Harlequins Youth Rugby Mentoring Program, which uses rugby to teach underprivileged youth accountability, responsibility, and teamwork.
Sorin Achim is a master of robotics. After gaining a degree in electrical engineering from the Romanian Department of Defense, he served as a robotics research engineer at Carnegie Mellon University and received the Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence for his contributions to the design of mobile robots.
With these accomplishments in hand, Achim founded Instant Robotics with one mission—"to translate robotics language into plain English." He teaches adults how to implement robotics into a variety of fields ranging from industry to the military. His advice touches on using medical automated systems in health care, blending robots with artistic media, preventing the robots from taking control, and engaging with robotics as a teaching tool in schools.
For a more hands-on environment, Instant Robotics' summer camps bring robotics lessons to children. In one-week sessions, students can build their own robots or create their own animated films using Legos. The camps conclude with a mini movie festival or a robotic battle for the last can of WD-40.
Dominique Ponko sits at the head of the class, leading yogis through muscle-lengthening postures with the steady flow of her deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales. It’s been a long journey for Dominique. She first sought out yoga at the age of 26 to help her cope with life-threatening seizures and a slow-growing brain tumor. Yoga comforted her through three difficult years, welcoming her into a space for healing spiritually before she was able to find the proper medicine to help her heal physically. Though still a little shaky, Dominique has triumphed and opened four yoga studios—voted Best of the ‘Burgh in 2010—to inspire her students to ease their ailments, build strength, and find inner peace.
During her studio's heated Vinyasa-flow classes, an enthusiastic and supportive instructor guides students through a series of strengthening postures that work to increase flexibility and build muscles. Warm, balmy air courses through the studio, pricking beads of sweat on brows to help detox bodies and loosen stiff muscles into deep, soothing stretches.
The Nesbit family has run its namesake bowling alley for more than 65 years, welcoming generations of customers into its friendly environment. Eight lanes of lightly stained wood welcome casual bowlers or committed summer league competition, and the lane's gray alleys accommodate bumpers for novice bowlers or bumper-car drivers gone off course.
The Nesbits also use their business to bring people together for community fundraising events, as well as their annual, hotly contested Nesbit's Lanes Open. The 30-year-old tourney puts combatants through a treacherous gauntlet of qualifiers, match play, and finals as they vie for a cash prize.