Sunday, October 27, 2013


Christal Cooper  1,738 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

God’s Gutsy Gal & GRIPSORS!
121 Sandburg Lane
Winter Haven, FL 33884

                           Fax:  863-325-8231

Phone: 863-221-6659

         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.

         GRIPSORS 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 missionary.”

         Zelinko 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.”

         After seven 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.”

         The family, 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 asking for.”

         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 money.

“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 a reality.

         “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 scissors.

         “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 night?’”
         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.
         Despite the owing of  money and the slow success of GRIPSORS Sharon is only thankful and grateful.

         “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 great-grandchildren.
         “Yes, I am gusty and grateful.  And I know GRIPSORS works.”


Photo 1. and 20.
Sharon Zelinko.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 2.
GRIPSORS is a vial opener.

Photo 3.
Sharon Zelinko, age 15.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 4.
Sharon Zelinko in nursing school.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 5.
Sharon Zelinko earns her nurse’s cap.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 6.
Sharon Zelinko, nursing graduation.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 7.
Sharon and Bill Zelinko, 1955.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 8.
GRIPSORS cuts back foam.

Photo 9.
GRIPSORS is a hook opener

Photo 10.
GRIPSORS closes.

Photo 11.
Sharon and Bill Zelinko family in the 1970s.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 12.
Bill and Sharon Zelinko, 1970s.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 13.
GRIPSORS trauma open cropped.

Photo 14.

Photo 15.
Sharon Zelinko in 1970s. Awana missionary.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 16.
Bill and Sharon Zelinko family.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 17.
GRIPSORS.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 18.
Bill and Sharon Zelinko family on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2005.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

Photo 19.
Bill and Sharon Zelinko.  Copyright by Sharon Zelinko.

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