In March 2010, Kyle Houlihan of Franklin, Wis., became sick with what doctors originally thought was strep throat or a virus. He then began showing signs of type 1 diabetes, including frequent urination, fatigue and constant thirst. Doctors found that his blood sugar was over 500 and he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 9.
“I was scared and didn’t understand what was happening. My family didn’t know much about diabetes, so they were scared, too,” says Houlihan. He explains that it was difficult to adjust to living with diabetes, but his teachers and friends were supportive and wanted to help him. Even though he had support, he still felt like he stood out from his classmates and friends.
After searching for a product that would organize his supplies and still look stylish, Houlihan and his dad, Tom, realized that there weren’t any out there. They were inspired to design what became the VitalPak. The VitalPak is a durable, water resistant backpack with a large main storage compartment and removable snap-in essentials kit. It gives functionality and organization to keep all diabetes supplies in one place, while still looking like a normal backpack.
“I use it every day and I love it. It is comfortable and looks cool. It doesn’t look like I’m carrying around a medical bag and definitely helps me blend in,” Houlihan explains.
The VitalPak can also be customized for those with other conditions, such as asthma or allergies, who are required to carry devices and supplies around with them. It can even be used as a portable first-aid kit. The VitalPak is different from other medical supply carriers because of its versatility.
“The VitalPak has a unique zip-out pouch for my testing meter and supplies so I don’t have to carry the entire pack if I don’t need to. I can also snap it in and take the entire pack with me over to a friend’s house and I know where all my supplies are at all times,” Houlihan says.
After three years of design and recently finishing a fundraising campaign, the VitalPak is now available for purchase and can be found in retail stores or from online retailers. The Houlihans plan to expand to more retailers in the future.
In the four years since his diagnosis, Houlihan and his family have faced diabetes head on. He was even named the Wisconsin Youth Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, which allowed him to tell his story to people at fundraisers and other events. He says that he enjoyed being able to help people become aware of diabetes and hopes to continue doing that with the development and sale of the VitalPak.
For more information on the VitalPak or to purchase it, please visit www.MyVitalPak.com.