Eight years ago Drew Ann Long’s special needs daughter Caroline was getting too big for her mother to easily fit her into regular supermarket carts while she did the family shop.
At the time Caroline - who suffers from Rett Syndrome and needs a wheelchair – was seven and she had long outgrown the baby capsule her mother could use when she was a newborn and the toddler seat would no longer do.
Upon noticing there was a specialised trolley style for almost every other group out there – babies, toddler seats, ‘fun carts’ for kids and even carts to fit motorised scooters –the Alabama mum became frustrated that a product to cater for those with disabilities didn’t even exist.
“I can’t be the only mother who needs this,” Ms Long told CBS of her initial thoughts.
So, inspired by her daughter, Ms Long began scribbling on the back of a napkin an invention that would become Caroline’s Cart – a shopping trolley that gives parents or carers of special needs children a viable option to transport a child through a store while grocery shopping.
Since that day in the supermarket years ago Ms Long has seen Caroline’s Cart grow from an idea to something actually being implemented at big retail stores like Target and Walmart, Home Depot in the US, and more stores in more countries are jumping on board.
And the carts are not just helping parents of disabled kids but the elderly can also use them. Able to hold the weight of a grown adult old people can sit in the seat while their carers help them shop.
Seeing Caroline’s Carts become a staple in supermarkets everywhere is a huge victory for the dedicated mother, who says her husband David also risked a lot to help the idea take off.
“It just about could have bankrupt[ed] us,” Long told CBS. “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.”
But in the end it’s all been worth it.
Of her creation Ms Long told CBS she 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 it’s for 30 minutes.”
Have you seen Caroline’s Carts or anything like it in Australia? Let us know in the Facebook comments.
Genius alert: Sydney mum invented a device to help babies stop crying on planes