Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lend-A-Hand in the News - Red Wing

Another great article recently published about the Lend-A-Hand:

By Brett Boese
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

AUSTIN — Despite being in circulation for almost a decade, Mike Duncan's business isn't exactly booming.

The fact that the Red Wing man gave away his latest version of Land-A-Hand to an Austin war veteran last week might raise questions of a flawed business model. The reality is Duncan's business is also his passion, finances be damned.

After graduating from Lake City's Lincoln High School in 1966, Duncan served four years in the Vietnam War. His entrepreneurial career started in 1992, but it took him a decade to form the idea behind Lend-A-Hand. The small device is strapped to an arm or leg and helps physically challenged people — often injured veterans or stroke victims — to perform up to 25 different activities, such as cooking, raking, golfing and fishing.

Just as that idea was getting off the ground, Duncan's wife of 32 years, Patricia, died of pancreatic cancer. She was 50. One of their final conversations together involved Duncan promising his ailing spouse that he'd see Lend-A-Hand become a success.

While it remains a financial nightmare — at one time he had 20 credit cards maxed out with three mortgages out on his home — people like Dan Stewart have provided the motivation to keep pressing forward.

The Marine, an Austin native who graduated from Hayfield High School in 2003, was seriously injured in 2005 during his third tour in Iraq. An improvised explosive device blew up next to the unarmored Humvee he was driving.

Things looked so grim for Stewart that two field hospitals refused to treat him, thinking he was past saving. The 27-year-old credits his fallow Marines with saving his life; they refused medical treatment until their stricken comrade was helped.

Stewart was in a coma for 32 days, during which he also suffered a stroke, and underwent a cranioplasty to insert two metal plates into his skull before being released.

Seven years later, Stewart is volunteering at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Austin, doing such tasks as raking and mowing with the help of Duncan's Lend-A-Hand. When the Stewart first started volunteering, he didn't even have the stamina to walk around the block. He now takes 10-mile jaunts around town that last around three hours.

"The first time I saw Dan mow, his smile was so happy," said MaryAnn Lynch, an Austin resident who helped Duncan and Stewart connect in late 2009. "He was smiling from ear to ear."

Such success stories compel Duncan, who put 60,000 miles on his car in 2010 trying to market the Lend-A-Hand to the 63 million physically challenged people in the United States. It's currently being sold in Red Wing, Lake City, Zumbrota and at Mayo Clinic's retail store in Rochester — plus various other shops throughout the country, but mainstream stores have almost universally rejected it.

"I'll tell you what, I've had so many doors slammed in my face that my nose is flat, and I've got a flat rear end from being kicked out on my butt so many times," Duncan said. "But (my wife) stuck with me to the end. She believed in me. I want to do this in her memory."

People like Dan "are what's changed me," Duncan said. "I hear all their stories, and it's really humbled me. It's an honor for me to know people like MaryAnn and Dan."

That change goes both ways, as Duncan's initial client remains his most ardent supporter. Sue Seeger of Lake City suffered a stroke when she was just 20. She's spent time traveling the country with Duncan, explaining the Lend-A-Hand's benefits. She also wrote the testimonial on Duncan's flier.

"This device has given me my life back," she wrote. "I feel like a whole person again instead of feeling like I only have one good side left. I am grateful to have this product, and I know it can help other people with physical challenges."
For more information, or to order, please visit: 
Or call us at 651-345-GOLF(4653)

Lend-A-Hand featured in Post Bulletin

Reposting a great article about the Lend-A-Hand from the Rochester Post Bulletin:


By Brett Boese
The Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

When Dan Stewart gets behind the wheel April 4 to take his driver's test, it will mark a monumental milestone. The Marine was injured so badly by a roadside IED seven years ago in Iraq that two military field hospitals denied him care for fear that the 2003 Hayfield graduate was already past the point of saving.

The 27-year-old Austin resident credits his fellow marines for saving his life; they each refused to accept medical treatment until their stricken comrade was attended to first.

"We're brothers-in-arms," Stewart said Thursday in a Marine-themed T-shirt with a matching hat safely stored a few feet away. "We're family. Who would let their blood brother just die when he could be getting help to live?"

The American flag that was flown above the medical facility in Fallujah, Iraq — where an unconscious Stewart finally found care — now hangs in his bedroom.

Not that he needs another reminder of his long road to recovery.

The surprisingly cheery veteran of three tours in Iraq spent 32 days in a coma after having most of the right side of his head "pushed in" by shrapnel.

While in that coma, Stewart also suffered a stroke that affects the left side of his body. He's undergone at least 10 surgeries since then, including a complicated cranioplasty, which inserted two metal plates in the right side of his head.

Unfazed by the setbacks, Stewart has forged ahead in an effort to rejoin civilian life. He's received help from new friends.

Guardian angel 

In 2006, MaryAnn Lynch met Stewart at St. Edwards Catholic Church in Austin. Some have started calling Lynch his "guardian angel." She and her husband routinely drive him to appointments and often help with everyday activities that may otherwise be difficult, such as cooking.

Perhaps more importantly, Lynch helped him land a position at the church. Stewart now volunteers five days a week doing tasks such as shoveling, mowing and raking.

When he began, the talkative, tattooed Marine was too weak to even walk around his own block. Now, 10-mile treks that last three hours are common.

Lynch's husband is trying to help him secure another volunteer position at the local Red Cross, and Stewart is considering enrolling at Riverland Community College, as well.

"He has a lot of drive," Lynch said. "And I don't think he's alone. Most (veterans) don't want to be considered wounded warriors. They want to be involved in the community — and life — again.

"The only things he isn't capable of doing are things he hasn't heard of yet."

However, being physically challenged — he hates the term "handicapped" — means many of Stewart's activities are slightly modified. For example, his left arm has limited mobility, so he'll drive with just one hand. As such, a farmer's knob has been added to the steering wheel, in addition to easy-access turn signals.

With Lynch's help, Stewart's also found a unique offering that's made everyday activities easier.


Mike Duncan, of Red Wing, has developed a product called Lend-A-Hand aimed at helping anyone with limited mobility in a limb, such as a stroke victim. It straps on to the leg or forearm with a small opening that an item — such as a rake, shovel, knife or fishing rod — might be placed in.

Duncan has gone through seven models in his quest to perfect the product. On Thursday, he gifted Stewart his latest version — a $130 "all-inclusive" model that won't be released to the general public until Sunday.

It's Stewart's third version of Lend-A-Hand since late 2009 and it's helping him write the next chapter of his life — literally. He's begun working on an autobiography that was started in his hospital bed, and he credits Duncan's device for helping him begin the next chapter in his life.

"It just frustrated the hell out of me that I couldn't rake like a normal person," Stewart said. "(Lend-A-Hand has) definitely enabled me to do my job better. Even though it's just a volunteer job, it's still a job, and I want to do it right."

Lend-A-Hand® is a patent pending assistant device. Once put on, it increases mobility while decreasing the strain off the individuals shoulders, arms, back and legs. Lend-A-Hand helps allow the individual to play golf, wash cars, paint, rake, sweep and wash floors, go fishing and other activities and duties.

For more information, or to order, please visit: 
Or call us at 651-345-GOLF(4653)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lend-A-Hand Featured On KSTP-5 Minneapolis/St.Paul

Lend-A-Hand was featured on Channel 5 KSTP, an ABC affiliate, last night. Here is a link to the news spot and an article from their website:

click here for video
By: Lauren Radomski
A Red Wing man is behind a device making chores easier for people with disabilities.
Michael Duncan is the creator of "Lend-A-Hand," a device he says can help people facing many types of challenges - from arthritis to carpal tunnel to cerebral palsy.
Cpl. Dan Stewart of Austin uses the Lend-A-Hand in his work at St. Edward's Catholic Church, where he's the parish maintenance man. Stewart, who was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004, spent 32 days in a coma and suffered a stroke and a dozen seizures.
Stewart has come a long way since then, but he still needs a little help with some chores. That's where the Lend-A-Hand comes in, helping with activities like cooking, building and yard work at the parish.
For more information, or to order, please visit: 
Or call us at 651-345-GOLF(4653)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lend-A-Hand interview with Jason Davis

Here's a link to the interview with Jason Davis that ran last year on KSTP Minneapolis/St.Paul

Fishing Season for the Lend-A-Hand

It's that time of year once again! Spring is here and so is the fishing opener. I wanted to share some photos that show our customers are using Lend-A-Hand for fishing.

The first 2 images show Lend-A-Hand being used for fishing by rapping the Velcro straps around the calf of the leg (just below the knee cap). This gentlemen had a stroke and now can jig and set the hook with Lend-A-Hand on his leg. He just loves being able to fish again.

The last 2 pictures are showing how a paraplegic uses the longest strap (15”) first snaps it into the front hook, then wraps it around the reel of the fishing pole, then through the hook on the other side of Lend-A-Hand, then sticks the Velcro together. What a great way to get out and catch the big one. 
If you have any questions or have information on how you use Lend-A-Hand please let us know so we can share and help others.

Lend-A-Hand® is a patent pending assistant device. Once put on, it increases mobility while decreasing the strain off the individuals shoulders, arms, back and legs. Lend-A-Hand helps allow the individual to play golf, wash cars, paint, rake, sweep and wash floors, go fishing and other activities and duties.

For more information, or to order, please visit: 
Or call us at 651-345-GOLF(4653)

Lend-A-Hand in the Austin Daily Herald

Product Gives Life to Limbs
from the Austin Daily Herald
Published 6:12am Monday, October 11, 2010

Kay Smaby and Dan Stewart have a few things in common. One was a former nurse, the other a Corporal in the Marines. Yet both have suffered a stroke which has left them partially paralyzed, which is why they both use a Lend-a-Hand, a product invented by a local inventor based out of Lake City, Minnesota.
Stewart, who held the flag during this year’s Fourth of July march, suffered a traumatic brain injury in August 2005 when an insurgent’s improvised explosive device blew up in a Dumpster along a roadway in Iraq, where Stewart’s Humvee vehicle was traveling.

Stewart’s left arm is partially paralyzed from a stroke he suffered during the recovery process. Yet he’s used his Lend-A-Hand, which is in essence a sleeve for a handle that he can attach to his arm, to help pull weeds from St. Edward’s Church, along with raking, shoveling snow and dirt. He recently edged the property around the Church as well.

“It’s such a great thing to have,” Stewart said. “To feel like I can use both arms again.”

When Stewart first started pulling weeds using his Lend-A-Hand, he was sore for a couple of days. Since then, he’s managed to rehabilitate some of the muscles.

“The more I used it, it stopped getting sore,” Stewart said.

Kay Smaby spent 25 years as an Intensive Care Unit nurse at Austin Medical Center before retiring, unfortunately suffering a stroke five years ago. Since she got her Lend-A-Hand, she’s cooked scrambled eggs, something she couldn’t have done before because of the limited use on her right arm.
“She’s able to do more things,” Dick Smaby, her husband said. “In her situation, it’s always hard, you tend to want to do things for her. People with strokes want to be able to do things for themselves. I feel good that she can do that now.”
Dan Stewart performs yard work Friday at St. Edwards Church.
Stewart wears a Lend-a-Hand on his left arm,
which allows him to use it to rake leaves

Lend-A-Hand® is a patent pending assistant device. Once put on, it increases mobility while decreasing the strain off the individuals shoulders, arms, back and legs. Lend-A-Hand helps allow the individual to play golf, wash cars, paint, rake, sweep and wash floors, go fishing and other activities and duties.

For more information, or to order, please visit: 
Or call us at 651-345-GOLF(4653)

Lend-A-Hand in the Mankato Free Press

New Meaning to the Words, "Helping Hand"
Lend-a-Hand device works wonders
By Tanner Kent
The Free Press

MANKATO — Neil Schalke and Dan Stewart have much in common. Both are Marines. Both served in Iraq. Both bear visible scars of war and both worried their disabilities would never allow them to enjoy their favorite pastime again. Now, both have Mike Duncan to thank the next time they go fishing.

“It’ll be good,” said Schalke after trying on the device that will give back at least one piece of the life he nearly lost six years ago in Iraq. “It’s probably been three years,” since he last went fishing, he said.
Schalke, a Wisconsin native, is a Minnesota State University student whose hands were severely injured in the fall of 2004 when a roadside explosive tore through his Humvee near Fallujah, Iraq.

More than a dozen surgeries were performed on his hands in the ensuing years. On his right hand, two fingers are missing; his left, though intact, has no feeling and little functionality. To this day, pieces of shrapnel will periodically work their way to the surface of his skin.

Stewart, who hails from Austin, suffered even more serious injuries when he was struck by shrapnel from a roadside explosive in 2005. He spent 32 days in a coma, had two metal plates inserted in his skull and suffered arm injuries due to blood clots that developed during his coma.

Several months ago, Stewart met Duncan for the first time. Duncan, a Lake City man who describes himself as a problem-solver, gave him a device he invented called Lend-a-Hand. The pseudo-prosthetic limb allowed Stewart to regain the ability to perform a variety of tasks, from shoveling snow to mowing grass to wetting a line.

Schalke, however, met Duncan for the first time on Thursday with help from a mutual contact. Stewart traveled to the meeting with Duncan, as well as Sue Seeger, who suffered a stroke at age 20 and inspired Duncan to create the Lend-a-Hand eight years ago when she shared her dream of playing golf despite being paralyzed on her right side.

“Eight years ago, it was a dead arm,” she said, adding that she now hits a golf ball 150 yards, and straight. “Now, I have all this range of motion.”

The meeting between Duncan and Schalke was set up by Pat Dotter, a representative of the Procurement Technical Assistance Center — which is, essentially, a federal program that helps small businesses to get government contracts.

Duncan had contacted Dotter a few months ago to help make his product available to veterans and military hospitals. Dotter also knew Schalke and said she immediately recognized how Duncan’s invention could improve his life.

“The thing that sold me on the product was seeing the excitement on Neil’s face when I told him he could fish again,” Dotter said. “That’s the perk of what I do.”
Lend-a-Hand attaches to a user’s non-functional arm or wrist. It stabilizes the arm and includes a long pocket in which anything with a handle can be inserted — including a fishing pole.

After designing the prototype eight years ago for Seeger, Duncan spent the next several years traveling with stroke victims, amputees, cerebral palsy sufferers and others to make modifications. He added grooves to the fasteners so users could tighten them with their teeth. He added color to one side of the device so those with head injuries or vision impairments could tell which side was supposed to face forward. He’s also made attachments for the device, including one that allows users to fire a 10-gauge shotgun so they can hunt.

Duncan describes himself as a problem-solver and scoffs at the notion that his inventions are due to intellect. Instead, he credits God and wife for inspiration (even though the latter died eight years ago from cancer) and said he’s lived an “interesting and exciting life,” from starting a junior bowling league in Lake City when he was a teenager to starting a band and playing music across the country.

But none of that, he said, compares to the sense of accomplishment he feels when people like Schalke are given a piece of their life back. “For an old guy like me, it’s exciting,” he said. “I’ve never designed a product that has affected so many people.”

Neil Schalke (left), an MSU student and Purple Heart recipient,
received a device Thursday that would finally allow him
to fish despite extensive injuries to his hands. The device was invented
by Mike Duncan (right), a Lake City man who has invented several
other contraptions. “There is life for these people,” he said.

Mike Duncan’s Lend-a-Hand invention allows those with 
arm, wrist and hand disabilities to regain several abilities, 
including shoveling, cooking, raking — and fishing.

Lend-A-Hand® is a patent pending assistant device. Once put on, it increases mobility while decreasing the strain off the individuals shoulders, arms, back and legs. Lend-A-Hand helps allow the individual to play golf, wash cars, paint, rake, sweep and wash floors, go fishing and other activities and duties.

For more information, or to order, please visit: 
Or call us at 651-345-GOLF(4653)