CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She maintains a blog at https://chrisricecooper.blogspot.com. She has a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.
In September of
2009 Sharon Zelinko traveled to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to put the final
revisons on the patent she had applied in 2005. Sharon, a nurse with over 55 years of
medical experience, first conceived the idea of GRIPSORS over 20 years ago, while working in the dialysis
department at Hines VA Hospital in Maywood, Illinois.
are revolutionary medical bandage scissors that can grip IV/G tubing, ports,
and oxygen connections. They can be used
to remove caps from vials and safely remove needles from syringes plus more.”
Sharon, a born-again
Christian, knew she wanted to be a nurse by the time she was 15 years old,
living in Saginaw, Michigan.
“I was going to be a missionary to
Africa. I wanted to be a medical
graduated from high school in 1952 and immediately went to nurses training at
Saginaw General Hospital. She graduated
in 1955 and married her husband Bill.
While Bill atended Bible training at Grand Rapids Baptist Bible School
and Seminary, Sharon worked her first job as a nurse at Blodget Hospital, in
the labor department.
After Bill graduated from Grand Rapids Baptist Bible School and
Seminary, the couple applied to work for Baptist Mid Missions but were denied,
stating tha Sharon needed to have more Bible training in order to be accepted. Instead, the couple worked for the Galilean
Baptist Mission, and started their first church in Burt, Michigan.
After five years, the family moved to Kalkaska, Michigan where Bill
served as pastor at Kalkaska Bible Baptist Church. At this time, Sharon worked as a nurse at Kalkaska
Memorial Health Center.
“It was a small rural hospital. We had babies there but we did it all –
emergency, babies, car wrecks, broken legs.
The nurse did whatever came through the door.”
years, the Zelinko family moved to McMillian, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula,
where Bill pastored another church and Sharon worked at Newberry State Hospital.
“I was the supervisor. There were a great variety of people who
worked and lived there. The thing that
stands out in my mind are the children.
You could imagine behind each child was a tragic story.”
which now included eight children, moved to Chicago where Bill became an Awana
missionary, serving the Chicago area.
“The move to Chicago was a stressful
one. I knew I had to work as a nurse to
help support our fmaily. I was concerned
about leaving my youngest child (who was three years olad at the time) with
someone I did not know. I prayed for God
to help me find someone reliable. In
Sunday School class the first Sunday in the Chicago area, my husband, Bill, shared
his testimony and asked for prayer in finding a babysitter. The next day a lady from the church called
us, “The Lord talked to me last night and I want to take care of your baby for
you.” She said she wanted to watch Julie
for free, as a service for the Lord.
This was an amazing answer to prayer that we did not even consider
Sharon started working in the dialysis unit at Hines VA Hospital in
Maywood, Illihois. It was here that she
first conceived of GRIPSORS.
“Tubing is often set too tight for
twisting open by finger stength alone.
The GRIPSORS difference is a fine grooved area between the
handles that allows you to safely grip the tubing or other item in order to
hold, twist, insert or extract with ease.
I never worried about inventing them myself because I figured someone
else would do it.”
Despite both Sharon and Bill working
full time the family still had to financially struggle, particualrly when they
enrolled their children in Christian schools.
Sharon considered her work as a nurse to be a God-given call and credits
God with giving her and Bill much needed
“The West Chicago Bible Church allowed Bill and other missionaries to
give their testemony during a missions conference. The next morning the church called saying
that they voted last night to give us $100 per month support and they were going
to make it retroactive for the past year.
Have you ever heard of retroactive missionary support? They gave us $1,200 for Christmas!”
After five years in the Chicago area,
the family moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin where they served as AWANA
missionaries for Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
After eight years, they transferred to serve the upper half of Lower
Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, where they served for nine years. It was dring this time that Sharon took her
first step in making GRIPSORS scissors
“I mentioned my idea to my brother, who is an
engineer. He put me in touch with a man
he knew to see if there was a way I could get them made. This did not happen. My daughter went online and contacted a
manufacturing company in Illinois that was willing to work with us. It took about a year to get the idea from a
drawing to a finished product with all the procedures required to get the
business registered and online. We
ordered our first shipment.”
The next step was choosing a name for
her scissors. At first she picked “Double
Duty” as the name but changed her mind when she googled the name and received
millions of hits.
“Our daughter Susan thought of GRIPSORS
using both the grip and scissors in the name and thus the new word was
born. We hope GRIPSORS will one
day be a household name like “Kleenex.”
Sharon received her first shipment of GRIPSORS
in 2005 and began to attend expositions, distributing literature, making phone
calls, and consulted with nurses aobut how they liked the product. She also attended her first Nursing Spectrum
Expo in Tampa, Florida. The average
table costs $2,500. The majority of the
tables were recruitng nurses. Sharon
walked aorund to all the tables and showed each individual her GRIPSORS
“Every nurse recognized the value of
them. When visitng the Naval-recruiting table, I asked the man how to get these
in the military. He took a yellow sticky pad and wrote down a man’s name and
his phone number. I called the
name. He was in charge of the medical
supplies at an Army base. He told me,
“They’re really ncie. My nureses love
them. Do you have an NSN nubmerr? I didn’t kwno what a NSN number was.”
Sharon, who did not own a computer
until she started this business, now has a computer, laptop, email address,
website address, fax machine, and NSN numbers. She’s had her product field-tested, has the
patent, three trademarks, and a license.
In May of 2007
and 2008 Sharon Attended ther AORN Congress (American Operating Room Congress)
in Orlando, Florida and then in Anaheim, California.
“There were 6,680 nurses. The vender area was as large as a football
field. Everything for the operating room
was avialble there. The busess
transported people from different hotels every fifteen minutes. When I showed
the nurses the scissors they asked, “Were were you when I needed them last
Operating room nurses began requesting other features and the line has
expanded to six models with a seventh in the making. Sharon is expanding her business by participating
in nursing events throughout Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Pennsylvania,
California, Colorado, Nevada, Louisiana, and Texas,
Sharon still face struggles when it
comes to the business world.
“I had no experience in the business
world because we came from the world of Christian service. I was a novice.”
One thing she learned was that the toll
free number she had paid to have was not necessary as well as the marketer
that she hired.
“What you don’t know you learn the
hard way. Right now we are tyring to get
the GRIPSORS at a price range that people will buy them and whoever
sells them has to mark them up 100%.
People do love them and we have given away thousands. We’ve sold over 20,000. We just have to see God’s will in our life
and not just how much money we make.”
Another struggle she is facing is against Prestige Medical Company who
took her photo from her website of the GRIPSORS and used it in their own
brochure to sell their own “Gripmates.”
“The patent only gives me the right
to sue. Prestige Medical Company is so
large – I can’t do nothing about it. How
would I fight that company? What woul I
say to them? In order to sue, you have
to have a lawyer that is bigger than these big company lawyers.”
Sharon works 12-hour
shifts at Lifecare where she is a registered nurse house supervisor and admits
new patients and orients new nurses.
This extra income helps their budget immensely and enables Sharonto to
pay off some of the loans she took out to get GRIPSORS started in the first place.
owing of money and the slow success of GRIPSORS Sharon is only thankful and
“When I admit patients in they need rehabilitation
for their knees and hips. I look at
their chart and they are often younger than me.
They ask me, “How long are you going to work?” Do you know how many people my age wish they
could work? Some of the patients look
like they are 100 but they are younger than me when I look at their chart.”
People always told Sharon she was
gutsy for doing this business venture, but to Sharon, it takes more guts to
trust God and to realize He is in total control and that any results are
dependent upon Him.
“God does all things well and does it in His
time. I tell Him, “Lord this is yours
and if you choose to bless it I will give You praise and if You choose not to
that’s okay because sometimes what You want is not what we want.” God deals with our motives.”
This gusty woman is continuing with her
GRIPSORS journey, but places more importance on her journey of faith in
God. She is also grateful for her family
– her husband Bill, her eight children, 22 grandchildren, and 23
“Yes, I am gusty and grateful. And I know GRIPSORS works.”
PHOTO DESCRIPTION AND COPYRIGHT INFO
Photo 1. and 20.
Sharon Zelinko. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
GRIPSORS is a vial opener.
Sharon Zelinko, age 15. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
Sharon Zelinko in nursing
school. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
Sharon Zelinko earns her
nurse’s cap. Copyright by Sharon
Sharon Zelinko, nursing
graduation. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
Sharon and Bill Zelinko,
1955. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
GRIPSORS cuts back foam.
GRIPSORS is a hook opener
Sharon and Bill Zelinko
family in the 1970s. Copyright by Sharon
Bill and Sharon Zelinko,
1970s. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
GRIPSORS trauma open cropped.
Sharon Zelinko in 1970s.
Awana missionary. Copyright by Sharon
Bill and Sharon Zelinko
family. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
GRIPSORS. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
Bill and Sharon Zelinko
family on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2005. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.
Bill and Sharon Zelinko. Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.