Post #18: Highlights & Happenings

Hey, Bandit Ball friends! This is Maeve Rigney, the Bandit Ball team’s summer intern! Today is a beautiful summer day, the perfect day to play a game with the Bandit Ball. Everyone’s situation is a little bit different in these hectic times, but, if you are able, playing outside responsibly is a great way to beat the blues. Outdoor play strengthens our bodies and minds, but, most importantly it’s fun. Today is the perfect day to put down your phones and play!

But, before you put down the phone or log off your computer, I would like to share a few updates on what has happened since our last blog post in January. Bandit Ball has made a lot of important progress this year!


In January, John and Nancy planned to go to the Transworld Christmas Holiday Show in St. Louis in March to show off the Bandit Ball and John’s new family playing card deck, Holiday Circle. Unfortunately, because of the Covid 19 pandemic, the Transworld show was postponed until 2021.  The good news is the product has been launched on a smaller scale. The cards can be found online at and at Kay’s Hallmark in the Peoria Metro Center, with more locations coming soon. 



In March, John teamed up with the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council’s Director of Innovation and Startups, Andrew Ngui, to help grow Bandit Ball’s team. As a result of this partnership, John received assistance to amplify this call to action. We posted a video to recruit team members and to spread the news of Bandit Ball’s mission to put one million Bandit Balls in the hands of kids all over the world. The link to the video can be found here:

Molly Gray, an operations management specialist, was looking to make a difference in the world, so she responded to Bandit Ball’s call to action. Molly not only brings the Bandit Ball spirit, but she also has a wealth of expertise. Molly is a business professional who specializes in supply chain management and financial operations. Her knowledge and drive made her the perfect fit for the Bandit Ball team.

Another event happened in March that I’m sure you’re well aware of: the pandemic. The pandemic forced startups everywhere to change their approach, as it became unsafe to visit brick and mortar stores. But, although the pandemic offered many challenges to startups, it also offered opportunities for growth. Demand for online-offered products grew. People in the community started to recognize how many challenges growing small businesses face, and they began to rally behind small businesses in support of them. The pandemic challenged startups. But it also brought people together. Video meetings and conferences became the norm, and remain so. In some cases, families were brought together under one roof out of necessity.

During the pandemic, John’s daughter’s family from Texas quarantined with him for five weeks. This was a bright spot, involving great family time and lots of Bandit Ball photos! Below are a few photos of John with his family from Texas:



In May, John began preparing for a “Invention Convention” with the 2nd grade class of the  Chestnut Hill Charter Academy in Seattle, Washington. Basically, this class was a 30-minute Zoom video teaching kids how to invent their own product! John prepared for this class by making how-to videos with two of his grandsons, Jude and Johnny.



These videos showed 2nd graders how to promote their inventions. The Academy then ordered a Bandit Ball for every child in the school. This was Bandit Ball’s largest order to date! The link to the boy's video can be found here:

Another exciting occurrence in May was when John got his 5th patent for the “Snow Slugger” snow ball bat, which was licensed to Wham-O.  This toy allows the user to make and throw snowballs, along with batting incoming snow balls away.



June was a big month for the Bandit Ball. One of the biggest things to happen in June was John’s donation of  a large number of Bandit Balls to Operation Christmas Child of Samaritan’s Purse.. This donation means that thousands of children in need across the world will receive a fun toy and a message of love for Christmas. Giving back has always been part of Bandit Ball’s mission to bring joy to children through play.  As part of the Bandit Ball team, I know that Bandit Ball looks forward to donating its toys and even a percentage of profits to charity in the future.


 Also in June, John got to do an interview for an upcoming publication to be announced.  John & Nancy got the chance to visit Texas and see their lovely children and grandchildren once again, getting even more photo opps along the way!



In July, Molly officially joined the Bandit Ball team as a sales consultant. This move will help promote Bandit Ball and its mission to encourage outdoor play. Also in July, Bandit Ball was featured in an article in Peoria Magazine. The article explores how startups are thriving in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Here’s a link to it:

And, that brings us to the present day! Bandit Ball is certainly experiencing a lot of exciting growth as a company. As an intern, it has been wonderful to watch this company grow so much in only two months. It has been the greatest honor and privilege to work with Bandit Ball and help further their mission.



Papa John

Much appreciated thoughts, Nano! Joy is the mission… play is a great way to find it. As Maeve writes, “outdoor play strengthens our bodies and minds, but most importantly, it’s fun!”


Special thanks to Andrew, Maeve, and Molly for being champions for entrepreneurship! Thank you for sharing your time, expertise, and enthusiasm on behalf of bringing JOY through PLAY!

And to you, Papa John, we are so grateful for your creative mind, artistic hand, playful spirit, and compassionate heart that bring life, laughter, and awe to all you touch!

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