By Sara DiNatale
Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Katie Sauls’ chronic pain led to the heating pad products she hopes will be carried on shelves across the country at America’s biggest retailer.
Katie Sauls knows how one event can change a person’s entire life.
In 1993, a tire blew out and her car slammed into a concrete embarkment. Doctors told her she died three times on the table. Her leg was severed and miraculously reattached.
Years of recovery and a life-long struggle with pain was ahead. But Sauls had a choice, she said 25 years later from her home in Pinellas Park: “To either move on from it or not.”
Now another moment is coming that could change everything — this time in all the right ways. It’s a chance for Sauls to pitch her patented stretchable heating pad, Therma-Stretch, to national buyers at Walmart.
“The next step is possibly amazing, but I always say it’s not done until it’s done,” said Sauls, 52. “But I’ll tell ya, I haven’t slept the last two nights.”
The sales pitch — think of it as CBS’s Shark Tank, Walmart-style — is part of the retail giant’s commitment to spend $250 billion on American-made products by 2023.
Sauls’ chronic pain led to the heating pad products she hopes will be carried on shelves across the country at America’s biggest retailer.
Her left leg has a steel bar running through it that goes to her ankle. In the early years of her recovery, Sauls was in a wheelchair. Having to manually turn the wheels strained her shoulders — heating pads offered relief, but wouldn’t stay put.
In the late 1990s she had her first idea triggered by the pain: The Kozy Collar, a microwaveable and freezeable pad that fits around the neck to soothe the shoulders. By 2000, she had a patent and was making enough money to support her family. Her business grew to nine full-time employees.