While pursuing your own invention idea can garner a sense of personal satisfaction, sometimes it's just as rewarding to help others realize their dreams. That was definitely the case last month when INPEX, America's largest invention trade show, was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For many of the INPEX staff, the most gratifying part of the show by far was the opportunity to work with Broderick Alexander, a 16-year-old aspiring inventor from Little Rock, Arkansas.
Broderick suffers from sickle cell disease, which is a blood disorder that causes bone marrow to produce red blood cells with defective hemoglobin. Two months before the show, the Little Rock chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation® contacted the Invention Show staff and informed them that Broderick's greatest wish was "to be an inventor for a day." INPEX director Jennifer Lawlor could not think of a more perfect fit for the request, and she immediately agreed to do whatever was possible to help make the young inventor's wish come true.
"I felt right away that INPEX was such an appropriate setting for Broderick to realize his wish, and I knew that giving him an opportunity to learn about inventing would be a lot of fun," Lawlor said. "But nothing could have prepared me for the unbridled spirit and enthusiasm that Broderick displayed throughout the show – he truly was an inspiration to all of us."
Broderick and his mother were flown to Pittsburgh for a four-day visit, where they received an all-access pass to the 2005 Invention Show (June 8-11). During their stay, the Alexanders attended Inventors University™ classes, received personal instruction from Resource Center professionals and mingled with accomplished veteran inventors like Ron Foxcroft (Fox 40® Whistle). Additionally, the INPEX staff coordinated a trip to PNC Park, where Broderick sat in a luxury box to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Pirates' General Manager David Littlefield even stopped by with the Pirate Parrot to wish Broderick well, and to give him some team memorabilia.
On Saturday night at the INPEX International Awards Ceremony, Lawlor and InventHelp® Communications Manager Nicole Hait presented Broderick with a "Future Inventor" award, as well as a special gift from IMET Corporation – a working prototype of one of the young inventor's ideas! IMET co-founder and CTO Thomas Krol was good enough to have his people build the prototype free of charge, and Lawlor arranged for an all-expenses paid trip – including an exhibit booth – for Broderick to display his invention at a future INPEX show! Additionally, InventHelp referred Broderick to an independent patent attorney to help prepare and file a U.S. patent application for the invention, and the attorney graciously volunteered to waive his normal fees.
For many INPEX staffers, the ear-to-ear grin on Broderick's face at the Awards Ceremony provided one of the most gratifying moments of the show. "We all learned so much from Broderick; his optimism and passion for inventing are indicative of what this show is all about," said Hait. "It's a special feeling to have played even a small part in granting the wish of such an exemplary young man."