ABOUT LIFESAVER CHARITIES
In 1983 my son Georgie was born. I was also the same time that a nine year old was hit by a car on his way to baseball practice. The young man died complicated by no identification and no way for his mom to locate him once the mother knew he was missing.
I was selling premiums to the soft drink industry and had just completed my biggest sale. Things were looking good for the Wager family. The boy’s death at the same time of my son’s birth and being a baseball coach made me realize that wrong place, wrong time that could be my son and my family tragedy.
I always liked when I could pay it back for good karma. I looked into the accident and following circumstances that resulted in this boy’s death and a hole in his mom’s life that can never be filled.
What I found out is everyone did their job and everyone was frustrated by the outcome. What I learned is this is not an isolated incident. The police officer told me they have children every day that get lost or injured and they are unable to find the parents until the parents find them. The paramedics have to deal with seriously injured children without any medical information which hampers their care. The Emergency room nurses and doctors have to deal with life and death decisions without all the necessary information. One thing I learned that I never even thought of was the child who is injured let’s say a broken bone. The child is in pain and they were taken away by strangers and now they are in a scary place and mom & dad are not there. Under these circumstances the child is a terrible patient only wanting their parents. The doctors have to make sure the child doesn’t do any additional harm so the child is restrained. This only heightens the fear for the child who is crying at the top of their lungs and pleading for their mom and dad. Everyone is frustrated because nothing can be done until the parents are found and they sign a parental consent form that the hospital requires before proceeding so they don’t get sued.
I was very pleased with myself and the thousands of police officers, paramedics, doctors and nurses who helped move our program along. The schools, PTA’s and some special people in our government were instrumental in helping distribute Lifesaver Tags. Consumer companies like Pepsi & Coca Cola paid for the tags and tens of thousands of retailers used their stores as our point of distribution.
My career at that point was coming up with something that the customer wanted and would go into the store and buy the product that my item was in. I took the only thing I knew and made it work. It is called a circle of distribution. We made Lifesaver tags with the consumer company’s logo on the tag. Selling advertising space. We distributed the tags to the school’s, PTA who in turn attached the two Lifesaver tags we gave them to the first school newsletter of the year with a paragraph we wrote to explain how to fill out the tags with a standard ball point pen and how to put them on your child’s footwear and clothing and of course the hook. Where to get more Lifesaver Tags If you need them they are at your local supermarket. Of course you need them junior has three pairs of sneakers, boots for bad weather rain coat, back to school jacket, swimsuit and so on. You are on your way to the store that drives customer traffic which is the lifeblood of every retailer. Not to mention the good public relations of a program that protects children for back to school. The retailer gave prime end cap space to the consumer company Pepsi & Coke. Because they paid for the tags. A prime end cap is the first end cap of the isle that faces the front of the store. This end cap sells product like soft drinks 13 times more than in the isle. Pepsi and Coke give a .50 a case advertising allowance which now is 13 times normal. That money came to Lifesaver Charities and we produced and distributed more tags. The more tags the more customer traffic the more customer traffic the more product sold the more product sold the more money we got to keep the circle spinning.
Normally a program like this runs once and the store and consumer company are on to something else. We ran it twice a year for three years keeping each program regional. In the fourth year Snuggle from Lever Brothers suggested a nationwide program in conjunction with the TV return of Lassie. It was a huge hit but because I was so busy doing the program and patting myself on the back I forgot to keep my eye on the ball. Once we did a National program everyone knew about Lifesaver tags and it went into the record books as one of the most successful promotions ever. Unfortunately no one wanted to run it after it went national. We continued the program on a smaller scale selling it to hospitals sponsored by a Pharmaceutical company’s, community groups like Kiwanis, United Way and so on. We even got a few utility companies to put Lifesaver Tags in their bills. It was also successful but the hand writing was on the wall. The only way Lifesaver Tags could continue was for the customer to pay for it. Getting someone to pay for something they were used to getting for free is an uphill climb and I simply was not smart enough to pull that off.
We saved 900 young lives and tens of thousands of situations we made better by finding the parents and providing emergency information to the emergency personnel who do what can only be described as amazing work. My family and friends all tell me to be thankful for all the good we did but all I can think of is what if I was smart enough to make it an item that continued on long after I was gone. How many lives could we save and many millions of situations could we have made better. Lifesaver Charities closed in 1990. I tried to bring it back every time I made a big deal and found myself with a little extra money. It doesn’t take long to go through an individual’s savings when you are trying to recreate a national program. I simply never had enough capital to do it again and the landscape changed in late 1989 when supermarkets created slotting. Slotting is where consumer companies simply pay for shelf space. Supermarkets would never give that space away for a promotion because it is too lucrative to the bottom line of the retailer.
A couple of months ago I turned 70 years old. Time is either running out or has run out on Lifesaver Tags. My last idea is to incorporate a GPS component to a Lifesaver tag. The tags again would be free and plentiful and would create its own revenue stream that would never go away. Pay for clicks. Can you imagine how many parents/grandparents when they had a few minutes at work on their computers or cell phones would check in to see were their children were? How about everyone more than once a day. Did my child get to school on time, did they get home Ok. Did they get to baseball practice or that dance class and so on? It also is a parenting tool when you check in you will find out that instead of staying in the house or the yard they are blocks away. You can then correct that behavior when you get home. It has so many applications if it is on an Alzheimer patient and they walk away they can immediately be found and returned. If you put it on your sneakers and throw them in the car you just lojacked your car. If you put it on a stroller and it goes missing you can find it in seconds and the missing cargo. You can put it on your dog. Finding your lost dog immediately keeps them from getting very far from home and the faster you find them the less chance you have of them being hit by a car.
Obviously I have left out the most important the injured, lost or abducted child. All of which are improved dramatically when you can immediately locate the child. For those who have relatively young children who have a cell phone it won’t be answered if your child is injured and it is no immediate help to emergency personnel who need all the emergency information and how to locate the parents which is on the Lifesaver Tags.
It is a simple process if you can wiggle your nose and make a miracle. Companies like Google and Microsoft have maps that would locate your child if they were wearing a GPS chip with a designated number that only you can put into the phone or computer when accessing the Google map for child locating.
The GPS technology exists and the millions of daily clicks sure pay for the expense. I don’t have to tell Google or Microsoft or any one of the other companies in this space how to make money with this knowledge, they are a lot smarted than me. I have tried making an appointment
and writing letters but being a has been with a new wrinkle on an old proven idea carries no weight with these multibillion dollar corporations. Just like the first time when Lifesaver Charities got off the matt it is going to take someone out there to get our information in front of someone who can help, that unfortunately up to now has not been me.
Be a Lifesaver Pass it On.