OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One Overland Park man is trying to change the way you think about stairs and help people with disabilities get to the top of them.
Todd Edmunds unveiled the prototype of his new patent Saturday at the Midwest Ability Summit at Overland Park’s Convention Center. The invention is called Stairwell Elevator, and when you first see the mechanism, it can be difficult to understand.
“It’s a beautiful, intelligent design. No one would think of that,” said Fritz Edmunds, Todd’s brother.
Fritz became a quadriplegic more than 30 years ago, and his brother got inspired to help him get around. Todd redesigned his basement to hang out with his friends and really wanted his brother to be able to come down as well — so he got creative.
“We have an elevator shaft, and it really is the stairway,” Todd Edmunds said. “So I figured out how to pivot the stairs out of the way, and then using parts that I gathered from eBay and from a junkyard, I put together a hydraulic lift that I could fit underneath the stairs.”
The patented design moves the stairs out of the way and lifts an elevator up and down in the space that for many homes goes unused.
“Pretty proud of my younger brother,” Fritz said. “He’s only 11 months younger than me, but I’m real proud of him.”
He was able to create the first real prototype with the help of Country Home Elevator & Stairlift.
“I think this is a market disrupter because it does something that nobody else can do,” said Craig Jones, the owner of Country Home Elevator & Stairlift. “We actually have a patent on this system, so it really gives us the opportunity to create something no one else has.”
Matt Bollig is in the market for a new home. He’s also a paraplegic. He said this widens the market for him immensely.
“Life changing, definitely,” Bollig said. “Not only in the home-buying process, but the day-to-day life. Having access to a whole bunch of square foot that I wouldn’t have never had access to, but then also just being able to hang out with my family in different parts of the house.”
Although this wasn’t what Todd Edmunds had in mind when he wanted to help his brother, he’s excited to know he will be helping many more in need to come.
“Whether that`s wounded warriors and veterans, or a lot of people who couldn’t necessarily afford to build an elevator in their house where with this type of innovation in this industry we can really broaden this,” he said.
Edmunds said they plan to have models available for purchase this year.