After winning a national contest sponsored by the Dallas Market Center, a Sunnyvale family is discovering just how much their little invention is helping others through difficult times.
The last eight years have been quite a journey for the Salser family, starting with the birth of Lynne and Deric Salser's youngest daughter, Alex.
"I remember the nurse taking her, running out of our room, holding Alex, running down the hall because her heart had stopped and she had stopped breathing," said Deric Salser.
Alex was born with a metabolic disease, causing even the common cold to lead to a trip to the hospital full of needles and IV drips.
"We've celebrated all kinds of family events in the hospital," said Lynne Salser. "And we're pretty good at making a yucky situation better."
In fact, they created what they call IV Pole Pals -- little characters that can attach to an IV pole to make Alex's multiple hospital visits a little less scary.
"I think IV Pole Pals is a way to make really hard situations a little bit better for families," said Lynne.
The family entered the invention into the Dallas Market Center's Next Big Thing competition -- a national contest to find the next greatest product.
"My heart was pounding in my chest right before they announced it," said Alex's older sister, Claire Salser. "I was so excited."
The big announcement came on June 26 at the Dallas Market Center.
"I thought we weren't going to win," said Alex.
So imagine their surprise when they did. The big, over-sized check for $2500 they received as part of their prize package now sits in their living room.
"I was really excited that we won," said Alex. "And I was like, oh my goodness, how could this happen."
After eight years of hospital visits and illnesses, winning the contest was a high in the family's journey.
"This is just further example of something really great happening out of something that maybe we would not have chosen to begin with," said Lynne.
A month after winning the Next Big Thing, business is booming for the Salsers.
"Just since we've won the award, we have sold more product in the last month than we did the previous twelve months," said Deric.
More importantly, are the people they've impacted along the way.
"Emails and messages, cards from patients all over the country are coming in of how the Pole Pals have touched their lives in positive ways," said Deric. "And that is a great reward to see that and that is what we want the product to do."
The Salsers have made a family business out of helping others find the silver lining in life.
"Sometimes its the little things that help you turn an ordinary day into something really special," said Lynne.
As part of their Next Big Thing prize package, the Salsers will receive consultations from industry experts in branding, public relations and visual merchandising to help them move forward with IV Pole Pals.