A family of four from Sunnyvale may very well have invented the next big thing. Several years ago, the Salsers created something out of necessity to take the fear out of hospital stays for children. Now that idea is a finalist in the Dallas Market Center's Next Big Thing contest.
Alex Salser is just like any other eight year-old girl -- vibrant and fun-loving except for when she gets sick.
Salser has a metabolic disease that makes even the common cold a hospital affair filled with overnight stays and IV drips.
"They had to hold me down and it was really scary," she said. "Its scary when I have to go there and my legs get numb."
On one hospital visit, her mother Lynne decided to make her daughter's hospital stay a little more enjoyable by creating a paper pal.
"I created a paper face out of notebook paper and crayons and we taped it to the IV pole," Lynne Salser said. "We named him Watery."
Every hospital stay after that, Watery was a necessity. The family even created a second pal named Flo.
"I remember that he was always right there besides me on the pole," said Alex. "And when I looked at him, I would have a cheery face because he was my pal."
From that initial pal designed to help Alex, sprung a novel idea her father, Deric, ran with.
"It first came from wanting to use Watery and Flo over and over again," said Deric. "From those original two, now there are forty different designs."
It lead toa family business called IV Pole Pals that are sold at Children's Medical Center's gift shop and used by patients throughout the hospital.
"I like decorating it so it doesn't look all plain anymore," said one patient with an IV Pole Pal. "So that way, with the colors, it makes it look more better."
The concept is now a finalist in the Dallas Market Center's Next Big Thing contest.
"It's nothing that we ever planned to do, but we're very proud of the invention," said Deric.
"Its exciting to think that this could really be something special," said Lynne.
For right now, the Salsers are just enjoying the ride, hoping their little invention will soon become just what the doctor ordered.
"Our hope is to have a Pole Pal in every hospital room in the world," said Deric. "Of course, that's a big goal."