Post #7: Outreach


Update:  Our manufacturer is still working on perfecting a production model and this will push our launch into 2018.  Patience is a virtue!   I have learned that in this journey.  Springtime and outdoor sports will be here before we know it!   There is something new to learn from life in every season.   We can soak it in or brush it aside.  If the lesson is something positive, we should take it to heart.

Post #7: Outreach:  Like many with a dream, I have put in an almost endless endeavor in pursuit of  a passion.  Like many, I’ve spent countless nights and weekends creating and scheming. Like so many, life has gotten in the way.  Road blocks, what ifs and almosts fill my bucket of experience.  But I dare not tip that bucket over.  Everything in it has value.

Whatever gets us to a point… any point in our lives… has value.  It's a part of our journey.  If we are creative, and all of us are, we can look at any point we are at and embrace the passion that drives us.

Writing, cooking, painting, gardening, designing, entertaining.  Pulling people together, making, inspiring or donating.  Whatever our passion... its flame kindles because it is meant to last. 

For some time, we have thought that the Bandit Ball could make an impact beyond adding value to play.   Wristbands, so universally important as a fundraising tool, are also an essential part of this product.  The fact that the Bandit Ball has an actual use for a wristband makes the idea for a real outreach to help people even more appealing.   

More importantly, our family has been directly affected by many of the challenges which life includes.  Cancer… Alzheimer’s… Dementia… Diabetes… Job Loss... and Depression are to name but a few.    We are like most families. Things happen in life that we wish had not.

We lost our son, Michael, to suicide a little over three years ago.  He was 23.  He had battled depression for years and was in treatment at the time of his passing. Michael was fighting his way back.  His incredible mind was waking up again and we were hopeful for his future.  

Whether heartbreak happens suddenly or gradually, it is tragic. We can choose to let it define us.  Or we can choose to fight back.  Our family has been in the most difficult of situations and we have chosen to fight, to live and to love. Faith, family and friends continue to be so important in our healing.  We could not get by day to day without them.


Michael, Nate and Kailee on our deck ... 2012

We have wanted to do something special to honor our son and his unique, amazing spirit.  Michael was always there to lend a hand.  Whether chauffeuring his brother Nate and friends to innumerable events or helping his mother with her many projects for the United Way, he was selfless in his love, compassion and willingness to help others.

For several years our family was involved with the community gardens at the South Side Mission in Peoria.  Michael and I were part of a project to build two Hoop Houses in order to extend their growing seasons.  He also went there many times with his mom to plant, harvest and help feed the people in the community. 


Michael and Me Building ... 2012 


 Planting Seeds ... 2011                  

Hoop House #1 ... 2013 

This was a part of who he was.  I believe that he believed that we, all of us, are here to help the world. And that is what he wanted to do.

Michael was involved with my design work, as well, through all of his growing up.  From countless hours of filming video to unique design suggestions, he was always there.

Michael, Nate and cousin Jack testing a backyard concept in 2007.

Michael and Nate tossing a Bandit Ball prototype in 2006. 


Kailee and her daughter in the opening scene from our upcoming video.

Our kids and many in our extended family have been huge helpers in the journey of this product.  We have no doubt that Michael still is!

From March through June of this year, I did over 100 interviews in the community.  Over 90% of the folks I asked said they would likely purchase a Bandit Ball if it were to come to market.   Importantly, 100% of those asked said they would be even more likely to purchase the ball if it was related to a charitable outreach.   Those were solid validations. We are all affected by stuff.   Most times, we want to help if there are ways that we can.

My first blog post posed some questions.  Why now?  Why Bandit Ball?  Sure, it's a cool toy.   Hopefully, it will bring joy to a lot of people.   For us, there is an answer closer to the heart. 

We will donate a percentage of the net profits from the Bandit Ball Project to causes which serve the needs outlined above. There are many local charities we would like to support, as well as larger national foundations.  You will be able to follow the story on the website once this starts to happen.  This outreach will be ongoing ... in memory of Michael, the world he wanted to help and the beauty he could see.

Filming on Shell Island ... Panama City, Florida  2011


"We are placed into this world, and from the beginning we are asking, What is possible?  Always.  What is possible for me to do? What is possible for me to be? To think?  What is possible to want?  What is possible to know?  To love?  What is possible?"                                                                                                  Michael J. Hinnen  








John Hinnen

Vicki … That is a great idea! We are considering all things at the moment. The first launch will be the ball as a toy, and then on from there with accessories and other possibilities!

Thanks … John

Vickiren Bilsland

Hi John – have you considered making a line called a prayer ball? You would print prayers or uplifting messages on each band of the ball and something inspirational printed on the main band for people to wear on their wrists. Promotion would be to buy it to let people know that God is there for them. I am thinking you could sell them in a gift shop at the hospital. Balls with age appropriate messages To target market.

Dan Ristau

Great post John. Touching post about your son. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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