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Meet The Penn State Alum Making Mask-Wearing Easy & Colorful For Pediatric Cancer Patients

After spending time volunteering with THON, Penn State alum Adam Bahl knew firsthand the challenges pediatric cancer patients face every day. Unfortunately, he also knew these obstacles would only grow larger as the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States this spring.

Some children who visit the Bryce Jordan Center each February wear face masks while immunocompromised due to their cancer treatments. Now, many are tasked with wearing masks nearly every day to stay safe from the coronavirus pandemic.

After wearing masks himself in the months since the virus hit, Bahl learned just how hard these kids may have it. So, to make mask-wearing a bit easier and more colorful, Bahl created Silly Hooks — a new accessory designed with kids in mind.

“Silly Hooks are fun animals that can either be attached to different kinds of headwear, or used with our custom Silly Straps,” Bahl said. “They are designed with a slot to loop the straps of a mask into in order to remove the pressure a mask puts on ears.”

Courtesy of Adam Bahl

Silly Hooks come in many different colors and animals, including seahorses, ponies, elephants, and more. The shades are bright and eye-catching and provide a pop that can help make a mask a little less boring and a lot more stylish.

Bahl hopes he and his company can eventually partner with THON to provide Silly Hooks and Silly Straps to Four Diamonds kids. In the meantime, he plans to raise money to get the startup on its feet and make production easier using an Indiegogo fundraising campaign.

“The goal with our Indiegogo campaign is to raise the funds necessary to launch the product to ensure that we can donate Silly Hooks to children battling cancer. Because we are a small business, we don’t have a pool of resources readily available to pour in to a project,” Bahl said. “By raising essential financial support from people who believe in our products and our mission, we can bring the project to life to make wearing masks more comfortable for everyone.”

Currently, a portion of every sale benefits the Four Diamonds Fund and directly helps cancer patients in need. So far, Silly Hooks’ fundraiser has amassed nearly $7,000 toward its $10,000 goal.

Bahl also notes that by supporting the Indiegogo campaign, people would essentially be “pre-ordering different Silly Hooks and Silly Straps items.”

“What differentiates Silly Hooks from other products is that for every item ‘pre-ordered’ (long term ordered on our website), the equivalent amount of items will be donated to children battling cancer,” Bahl said.

Silly Hooks is modeling the format of Bombas Socks, another company where a customer orders a product and the company matches that donation to a charity or charitable organization. Bombas donates socks to homeless shelters, and Silly Hooks plans to donate the mask hooks to hospitals and pediatric cancer patients.

With the chance of schools reopening in the fall and as more kids begin to wear masks, the demand for Silly Hooks increases. Silly Hooks aren’t just for kids with cancer. Bahl argues every child could find them useful and fashionable.

Kids may not be used to wearing masks or feel comfortable wearing them. Silly Hooks allows them to get creative with how they wear it and will give them that confidence they need to go into school with a mask.

“[For kids], it will be the first time for many people that they have to wear a mask for an extended period of time and they will look for ways to make it more comfortable, particularly on the ears,” Bahl said.

Ultimately, Bahl’s dream is to provide his product to every child battling pediatric cancer. Although currently focused on THON and Four Diamonds, he hopes to spread that mission to hospitals and organizations across the country.

“Our dream is to donate Silly Hooks to every child battling cancer. In the midst of everything else they have going on, we just want to give them a reason to smile and a reminder that they don’t fight alone,” Bahl said. “Our heroes deserve a better way to wear a mask and we’re ready to give them one.”

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey is a senior from Annapolis, Maryland, majoring in secondary education and minoring in social justice in education. When he is not writing for the blog, he enjoys rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor", and yes mom, actually doing school work. If you would like to talk about sports or "Survivor", the best way to reach out is on Twitter @theowenabbey. All other compliments may be sent to [email protected]

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