Caroline's Cart: A simple idea that changed everything.Drew Ann Long, the mother of Caroline, her then-7-year old wheelchair-bound daughter, found herself frustrated while looking around for a shopping cart during a routine trip to the grocery store. She found herself wondering why there weren't any carts for children with special needs. There were carts for children and special carts for infants and toddlers. There were even motor scooters for the handicapped. Then she realized that the cart she longed for (pun intended) did not exist. She scribbled a design on a napkin. Caroline's Cart was born.
Long's daughter, Caroline, suffers from Rett syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls. Often misdiagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy, the disorder, according to Rett Syndrome.org:
...causes problems in brain function that are responsible for cognitive, sensory, emotional, motor and autonomic function. These can include learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function, and even chewing, swallowing, and digestion.Long posted her idea for the cart to Facebook, where she received an overwhelmingly positive response:
I wanted to give special needs families a sense of normalcy which allows us to feel like that typical family -- even if it’s at the grocery store, even if its for 30 minutes.She designed the cart, applied for a patent, and sought advisers who could help her bring her idea to fruition and to retailers everywhere.
We had to rally the troops and communities to say, ‘Go to your store and tell them you need Caroline’s Cart for your special needs child.' We really had to convince retailers.
The cart was a success, allowing parents to transport their child in a grocery store without having to manage a shopping cart and a wheelchair at the same time. Long found a manufacturer: The carts were in smaller retail outlets by 2013. They were seen in Target by 2015 and are now in Target locations nationwide. Walmart and Home Depot followed suit. Then Caroline's Cart became an international enterprise, moving its way into stores in five different countries. The majority of stores that use Caroline's Cart have at least two on-site for customer use. Long happily reported that her invention has also helped seniors:
From helping a woman with Alzheimer’s to another with hip surgery, it has been wonderful.Still, she admits, the idea did not come without its risks:
It just about could have bankruptBut she has no regrets:
us. We took money out of retirement, my husband lost his job -- and in the high of this, Caroline was in and out of hospital. You name the hurdle, we had it.
If you’re going to make accommodations for the typical family, that same accommodation should be extended to those who have a disability.Say it louder, for the people in the back!
H/T: CBS, Caroline's Cart