This 9/11 Fireman’s Dream Was to be on Shark Tank. He Died Before He Could. So His Kids Made it Happen.

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Keith Young was a firefighter. He contracted cancer from the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. That didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams as an inventor. He was even scheduled to appear on Shark Tank. That didn’t happen. Young’s children are now finishing this journey for him, and taking Young’s story to a much wider audience.

The Cup Board Pro is a simple concept. It is a cutting board with a small bowl attached that makes clean-up easy. After Young’s tragic death, his kids have continued what Young started with Shark Tank.

Twenty-four-year-old Kaley, and her 19-year-old brother Christian and 15-year-old sister Kiera, appeared on Sunday’s episode.

“The sharks were so invested in the siblings and the product that they gave an unprecedented offer: all five sharks on the panel gave them the $100,000 they were asking for in return for 20% of the company, and the profits the sharks received from their 20% would all be donated to a charity of Kaley’s choice related to alleviating the health care costs of 9/11 first responders,” Forbes writes.

Kaley spoke with Carolyn Lipka from Forbes to explain both the invention and the legacy of her late father.

“The cup board pro is a 2-sided cutting board with an insertable cup that inserts into the cutting board. It was invented by my dad when I was in high school, and my dad, when he was creating it, at the time, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. He put everything on hold to be by her side. After my Mom passed away to cancer on August 22, 2012, it was really a hard thing for my family to go through, and it took my dad some time to get back to it. He was asked to go on Chopped and that kind of gave him the confidence again to continue on this board and put more passion behind it. He had an order of 2,000 cutting boards come from China completely perfect the way he wanted it, a high-quality product. The month he got the delivery, he was diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer. He began chemo right away and had to have a huge surgery, which paused everything once again. Three months before Shark Tank, he passed.”

After losing both their mother and father, the kids decided they would follow through on Young’s plan to appear on Shark Tank. And so they began practicing.

“As much as you can prepare,” Kaley said, “there’s no way to really describe what it’s like to be in there. I kind of blacked out on the whole experience.”

It seem logical for the Young kids to continue this journey–it involved the whole family.

“So both my parents had jobs and worked on this on the side,” she told Forbes, “and we got the whole family involved. We were big on just family time in general so I would watch my dad as he would take plastic cutting boards and carve into them to make his vision come to life and then he was connected to an industrial engineer who really helped him get it going, have it manufactured in China. My Dad would actually take me with him to kitchen conventions in Chicago and we would go to different events in California as well to prepare and make his product the best it could be. I helped him with the graphic design of his website and the logo, creating marketing tools, so I just fully believed in my dad’s product and wanted him to succeed as much as he can so I just stood behind it wherever my strengths were in it.”

Kaley’s strength is clearly evident, though she credits the strengths of her parents. “We’re only able to be here because of how strong our parents were,” Kaley said on the show.

The new company seems to be going strong, too.