The Story of Vest
How can an idea transform the lives of real people?
Michael Pearce is the inspired force behind the marvelous tool that we know as Vest. As a trust attorney who worked closely with the families of children with special needs, he saw an incredible void. These parents were lost and confused when it came to planning for the future of their children. There were absolutely no tools out there to empower families to plan without fear, nothing to help them to know what steps to take or to record the essential information in a realistic way.
He saw the lives of families with special needs first hand in his office through the stress, the worn out looks, the fear and the tears. What Michael realized was that families with special needs needed to take advantage of technology. And he knew that cloud technology was the solution.
No one else out there was doing anything like this, no one. He was a solo venturist into the realm of planning technology for families with complex struggles. His vision was singular, and took a leap of faith and a great deal of time to flesh out.
Starting out with reams of yellow pads, Michael began to build the concept, to sketch the plans and to grow the idea. When he discovered the costs involved and the timetable to develop cloud software, he became discouraged. His two children were in college and his law practice was doing well, when rock the boat when life is great?
But the thing that you have to realize about Michael is that he cares about people. Truly, not in some lip service, shallow kind of way. So he kept going, kept working at it. He and his wife Sue, along with their daughters, sat down to come up with a name. They dug through the notes and mulled on lists of names that didn’t quite fit the bill. Finally the landed on the notion of a Vest. Vests mean protection, from the cold or from drowning. How many special needs families are drowning? How many are out in the cold? A Vest for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Vest. And don’t we all have a vested interest in the success and happiness of our children?
Still daunted by the force that it would take to make this happen Vest was left there, on a yellow pad, to hide away. Life was perhaps too good to mess with. Weeks passed. Then one day Michael was driving home on his way to tell his wife that it was too much after all, but he heard a song come on the radio:
“I'm just a normal boy
That sank when I fell overboard
My ship would leave the country
But I'd rather swim ashore
Without a life vest I'd be stuck again…
I want to swim away, but don’t know how.. “
Life happens in moments. This was one of those moments. Those words from Into the Ocean spoke directly to Michael: “without a life vest I”d be stuck again.”
From that point on, success was the only choice. Determined to be a positive force in the world, and to commit to the hope that he knew he had to offer families, Michael made the decision to move forward and to make this happen - no matter the challenges.
He found some fantastic developers who knew their stuff and were eager to create something unique and most of all useful. Randy and Andy brought not only know how but also integrity to the project. Shared vision. Shared passion for the cause. Together they created the technological backbone of Vest, which offered a functionality and ease of use to families.
He sought out experts in special needs, as well as real families to refine the program. He found counsel with Dan, Kathy, Leona and Autumn. These were people who brought the strength of professional backgrounds to the project along with an understanding of special needs that can only come from living it. All four are parents of complex children and all four carry a deep desire to help out other families who find themselves navigating the pitfalls of disability.
Vest is today the product of a vision that began with one individual, but which has spread to others, creating a shared vision that is driven by a passion to help a community who has up until this point been left out of much of the technological revolution. But help is here.
Vest offers families real solutions to the issues that keep us awake at night.
How can an idea transform the lives of real people? By taking shape through the passion of a group of strong and emboldened individuals. Vest is an idea that has taken flight and now offers to give families superpowers to get past the mundane details that are holding them back and to find the empowerment that they so desperately need.
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