Banding together to make a difference

Alan Lane is the father of a young entrepreneur who wanted to share his idea for coping with anxiety disorders in the hopes of helping others. Joshua enlisted his family to take his idea from concept to online business. And he’s just 7 years old! Alan shares more about the genesis of Joshua’s Rubber Band Balls.

Joshua has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder—or OCD—and anxiety. A friend from church suggested that he try putting rubber bands together and taking them apart to help control fidgeting. That helped—and so he took the rubber band ball everywhere.

One day earlier this year, Josh and I were waiting for his mom at a medical appointment. He had the ball with him and I said, “I bet you could sell those.” He responded right away.

“Sissy can take pictures and Bubba can make a website. You can mail them and Mommy can help, too.”

Sissy is Joshua’s 14-year-old sister, Rachel, and Bubba is his 19-year-old brother, Tyler.

When his mom came out after her appointment, Joshua said to me, “Are you going to tell her about my business plan?”

And that’s how it started. We’ve been selling them since February of this year, online and through Facebook.

It’s great to hear from the people who buy them. A grandmother in Georgia got one for her granddaughter, who has anxiety. A teacher in California purchased one to use in her classroom. We recently established a partnership with the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey for children with cancer to use the balls.

Joshua also has had seizures since he was very young; they are controlled with medicine. He has a service dog, Spot, who sleeps with him and is a source of comfort. So he wanted some of the money from the sale of Joshua’s Rubber Band Balls to help train service dogs for other kids.

Now, we donate 10 percent of proceeds to Merlin’s KIDS, which provides trained service dogs for children. Through a friend, we just had the chance to meet the New Jersey woman who founded Merlin’s KIDS.

We helped Joshua start this business because we want to give back and help people. And one of the most rewarding parts has been the way our whole family became involved. But we never forget who’s the boss. When it’s time to discuss business, Joshua calls the meeting to order and it’s not over until he says so!

—Alan Lane

You can meet Alan and Joshua and purchase Joshua’s Rubber Band Balls at the Diakon Outdoor Adventure Challenge at the Diakon Wilderness Center Sept. 14. Also visit https://joshuasrubberbandballs.com/

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