Driven to Invention

| April 07, 2005

Fifteen years later, Abbondandolo got a patent for his Universal Privacy Shades. The shades, which are made of flexible Tyvek, fit in the windows of trucks and are held on by suction cups. The lightweight shades fold up to fit in a glove box.

After fighting and winning a patent infringement case with AutoShades, Abbondandolo is back on the road hauling wholesale marine parts for Lewis Marine Supply. He sells his shades on the side from his home in Florida. He has decided to use all of his profits to build a fishing camp for sick and terminally ill children.

“Most of my life I was sick,” he says. “I know what it feels like to be poked and prodded, to just want to get out of the hospital.”

A fisherman himself, 51-year-old Abbondandolo has decided to open a resort where sick children can relax and have fun. “I love the serenity, the peacefulness,” Abbondandolo says. “That’s what I want to give to sick kids.”

Abbondandolo, who is also a professional clown on the weekends, hasn’t made enough profit from his invention yet to start the resort. But he keeps working on making this dream of his come true. Right now he’s planning how he can rent out places to stay at his fishing resort and use the money to fund the camp.

Motivated by the Elizabeth Smart case in which a girl in Utah was missing for 9 months, Abbondandolo is trying to put pictures of missing children on his shades. Ideally, companies would sponsor a missing child. Their logo would be sported on one side of the shade, while the child’s face would appear on the other side, he says. The company’s sponsorship would allow these shades to be given away for free.

“The shades fit RVs, trucks, pickups, nearly anything, so this would be a great way to get those kids faces out,” Abbondandolo says.

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Husband-and-Wife Team Pen State-by-State Driver’s Guide

Don and Debbe Morrow were driving through Nevada three years ago when they ran into a problem. Their atlas said trucks were not allowed on a road where they could see trucks. The Morrows didn’t know if they were allowed to continue driving or not.

Debbe hit the phones, but says she was passed from office to office and found no one who knew about local truck rules. Her frustrations mounted, and she knew that other truckers must experience these same problems.

The Morrows’ solution? They published For the Long Haul, a state-by-state guide for professional drivers.

The couple spent two and a half years and more than 2,000 hours on the phone and Internet tracking down information from their home in Eau Claire, Wis.

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