KC girl, 10, wins $250,000 grand prize in invention contest

When Julia Luetje’s parents surprised her at school with news that her invention had won Frito-Lay’s $250,000 Dreamvention grand prize, the 10-year-old from the Kansas City area was excited, but she told them she needed to get back to work.

Luetje, from Leawood, Kansas, invented the Storm Sleeper device to help people who are afraid of storms cope with the sights and sounds of extreme weather. The product already is gaining traction in Kansas City and beyond.

Luetje’s invention emerged from more than 13,000 entries as one of five finalists to earn a $10,000 prize late last year. From there, the Storm Sleeper was the lone invention selected to receive the $250,000 grand prize.

“We heard from various groups who asked when they could get one — including the autism community and those who are sensitive to sensory issues including people with ADHD — who want to use the Storm Sleeper as a therapy aid,” said Luetje’s mom, Susan Bernstein. “We also heard from veterans and others who have PTSD who also think the Storm Sleeper will help them.”

And some fans of the device hope to use it — or perhaps another version of the Storm Sleeper — for their pets, Bernstein said. But four-legged barkers aren’t the only potential for an expanded market.

Luetje and her parents, Bernstein and Chucker Luetje, currently are working on a business plan and hope to begin manufacturing soon, they said.

Read more: Startland News

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