As I look at pictures of my great nephew I’m amazed at his height. In fact I have a hard time visualizing that he once weighed less than 2 lbs! I mean if you think about it; that is less than a package of hamburger at the grocery store! He is the picture of health with gorgeous red hair and an impish smile. Those huge blue eyes don’t show any hint of the trials he has endured as an infant. But that was five years ago.
Michelle; his mom was and is one of the busiest people I know. She is one of those A personality types that are the “take the bull by the horns” and get it done people. When Michelle sets her mind to something it will get done. What is the old saying “When you want something done right give the job to a busy person”? Well that is how she is.
Still as I watch her on her video and see her pictures on line showing her bag business; I’m amazed that this beautiful; vivacious woman was once the little girl with the long hair and big blue eyes glaring at me from underneath bangs. We didn’t always get along when she was 4! Still she has become not only one of my favorite relatives but a great friend as well.
I watched as she became a wife and then a mother; to a very sick little boy one cold Valentines night and I prayed as we all did that she and her little one would be safe and our prayers would be answered. They were in spades. They not only both survived but blossomed in this beautiful little family that included Ty’s dad Scott. But the journey to this place of her success and Ty’s great health was a long and arduous one with many pitfalls and problems.
When Ty was born he was a fragile almost bird like creature that couldn’t be touched by anyone save the doctors and nurses that were keeping him alive; tubes and wires; and especially the life’s breath of oxygen. He was in the hospital for months with Michelle and Scott commuting as much as they could from a small farming community to Denver St Luke’s Hospital. This was not only exhausting but terrifying for all the family members as little Ty struggled with surgeries and issues with his delicate health.
Still he did survive. And in fact finally got to come home with mom and dad. But the troubles were not over when he got to be with them. He was still on oxygen and had to be until he was almost 2 yrs old. It was disheartening to his parents and a frightening thing to worry constantly that the oxygen would work properly and that he wouldn’t have an issue with it. Traveling with him was a nightmare.
I remember one especially humorous and frustrating day when we took Ty to his check up a hundred miles away and how difficult that day was. You see it took two people to take him because we not only had the little one and the diaper bag; purses, blankets and coats; but we had to find room for the oxygen tank as well. This one day we took forever getting everything packed and all his paperwork; his special milk formula and of course us!
We kept dropping stuff and forgetting stuff and it took about 25 minutes before we were organized enough to go into the office. I looked at her and told her that someday she’d be able to laugh at this day!
So I was not very surprised when she me to say she’d thought of a great new idea. An idea to not only make some money for her family strapped with medical bills; but a way to help others as well. As she explained her thoughts I felt a glow at this amazing dream.
She wanted to start a company with a design for an oxygen bag for people to be able to transport portable oxygen while they were out and about. This design was ingenious with a back pack style and lots of great compartments and spots to put everything you would ever need. It had a spot to hold the oxygen tank and a grommet hole for the tubing to come up through the top of the bag. I loved it! She worked with a company to build the first prototype and actually used it some with Ty. It is such a life saver when a person has much to carry with a child; all the compartments will hold things from a cell phone to a billfold; from diapers to a baby bottle. This bag even works for any age group of person who has things to carry.
So Busy Breathers was formed and although she’s had many trials and tribulations with starting a company and has had to learn to be tough when needed; found something along the way. Herself. And this company has garnered many blessings; with associations of oxygen carrying companies; to Kim Lavine; Mommy Millionaire. This lady has always been an inspiration to Michelle since she first read her book and it’s such a wonderful thing for me to see the smile on Michelle’s face when she talks of her mentor and friend.
Michelle recently won a $15,000 grant from Kimberly Clark Huggies for entrepreneurs. It was such a thrill for us all to see this for our Michelle and not surprising. This company is not only a wonderful help to others but potentially can help many. The statistics of the National Lung association put over a million people on oxygen any given day in the United States. That means that theoretically; bags from Busy Breathers could be in millions of homes someday!.
One of the most amazing things about this whole adventure is that Michelle and become the person that most people would aspire to be; a leader. And although she has accomplished much in the last few years; I believe the thing she has accomplished the most has been that she is not afraid to try. She is not afraid to work and most importantly not afraid to succeed! Congratulations Michelle!
Kim Weninger MH