Deb Stanzak said there's no way the Chase representative who called her in August could fully grasp what it meant to win a grant from the bank's "Mission: Small Business" competition.
In 2005 — less than a week before his death to diabetes complications — Stanzak's brother, Ron Papes, made her promise to make the most out of her portable clothing concept. He had been wearing a fleece jacket that Stanzak created during dialysis appointments. He predicted that she would make a lot of money if she turned the concept into a business.
Now, Stanzak's RonWear Port-able Clothing line is the winner of a $250,000 grant from Chase and LivingSocial. RonWear, a Beacwhood-based maker of treatment clothing for men and women, is one of just 12 businesses in the country to win the grant. Nearly 70,000 companies applied to a grant.
"They were like, 'Congratulations, this must be so exciting,' but I kept saying, 'you don't understand,'" Stanzak said. "You just don't understand.
"My brother and I were very close. He was my best supporter ever and such a great guy. I really miss him."
Follow us on Twitter | Like us on Facebook
To Stanzak, the win substantiates the work she put into the company in order to keep her brother's wish.
"I really knew it was meant to be, it just solidifies everything," she said.
Stanzak will use the money to boost her product line and marketing efforts. The RonWear line currently includes jackets and pants designed to keep patients warm while providing ports for dialysis, infusions and more.
"We lost a lot of people, but now we can help thousands of people with this outfit," she said. "I talk to patients all the time and the people who buy our products for their loved ones, and it's such a difference.
"I would have never thought that from this makeshift thing I made, that it would go on to help so many people."
For more information, call 1-800-513-1458 or visit www.RonWear.com.