SOUTHINGTON — Local resident Jill White said she and her family had been waiting anxiously to find out if they won a national invention contest.
This week the family learned they had won.
“We were in shock,” White said. “I don’t think I was able to speak for a while. There was crying. We were really excited and happy.”
Jill White and her husband Joseph White entered their family’s invention, the Kid Safe Switch, to the My Dreamvention contest sponsored by Frito-Lay. Daughters Audrey, 7, and Mia, 5, helped come up with the idea for an alarm that detects when children are too close to the stove.
According to a statement from Pepsi, the parent company of Frito-Lay, they won $250,000 in prize money, beating thousands of other families across the country.
“As a family that loves to cook together, (they) submitted the Kid Safe Switch invention idea as a way to solve one fear that many parents face: Keeping kids safe in the kitchen,” read the statement.
White said the family was flown to Dallas, Texas for the weekend to meet with the other finalists. Finalists were treated to a Dallas Stars Hockey game on Saturday and a brunch reception on Sunday. It was at the brunch that a video featuring actress Cobie Smulders, from the show “How I Met Your Mother,” announced that the family had won. White said her daughters were thrilled.
“They were very smiley and excited,” White said. “They’re very sweet little girls and very aware that other people didn’t win so they didn’t jump up or scream.”
White said her daughters whispered ‘do we get to go to Disney World?’ referring to a promise made in the event they won. White said the contest has “literally been life changing” and has taught her family many lessons.
White said the contest has been the family’s “whole life” for the past few months. They posted photos and videos to social media to get people in the community to vote for their invention on the contest website.
“People I don’t even know have supported us,” White said.
White grew up in Southington, moved away and returned after she was married. She said the community has been so welcoming and supportive to her family, that she can’t talk about it without crying.
Because the invention they created is only a concept, White said the family is considering investing in the idea to actually create a prototype. Winning helped her and her family feel validated and has encouraged them to try new things.
“I think things like this always felt unattainable and now impossible dreams feel possible to us,” White said. “Suddenly I believe that if you try something, it might change your life.”