Vol. 12


An American Dream

c. 1980–1991; St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Have you ever had a dream that your family discouraged you about? Well, my uncle Dan Lauer has been in that situation before. Back when he was a child, he and his three brothers and three sisters had only toys they’d made, because their parents didn’t have money for anything except food and bills. My uncle Dan’s idea first came from water balloons with drawn faces he and his siblings had made, but that soon blossomed into something much bigger.

When my uncle graduated from college, he got a degree as a banker. Every day he thought about his childhood, remembering his imagination and his determination to become an entrepreneur. Over time, his dream of becoming an entrepreneur grew, and he set his idea to work at the age of twenty-six.

Pound Puppies and Cabbage Patch Kids caught his attention; he thought if regular people could come up with ideas like those dolls, so could he. So he began to write to toy companies. He wrote to Mr. Mattel so he could sell his idea for one million dollars . . . only to find out that Mr. Mattel didn’t really exist.

But my uncle didn’t give up. He wrote over seven hundred letters to toy companies, determined to sell his idea. Unfortunately, all of the companies rejected the idea, so my uncle began working on his Waterbabies himself.

The Waterbabies had to be able to hold hot or cold water and keep the temperature the same for long periods of time. He went through many trials and errors, but his perseverance was strong and he kept trying. When he finally made the first working Waterbabies, he sent some of them to Walmarts and Targets, but seven of the ten stores rejected them. After a while, my uncle quit his job, and his in-laws argued that it was a mistake, because they feared he wouldn’t make enough money to keep his family safe.

After my uncle had sold Waterbabies to seven Targets and Walmarts, people who had heard of his invention searched for his products in the markets. Companies from all over the world began to meet with my uncle about his idea, eager to buy some Waterbabies for their own stores. My uncle’s invention was becoming more popular, and Christmas was right around the corner. Waterbabies dolls were selling faster than a peregrine falcon ascends. Consumers were left disappointed when the stores finally ran out of Waterbabies stock. Stores then came begging my uncle for the dolls to be sold in their stores. In 1991, Waterbabies was the best-selling baby doll in America, with over twenty-three million sold!

My uncle inspired me and other people around the globe to follow our dreams, showing that we can achieve anything we put our minds to. If it were easy, anyone would do it, but it takes passion and extreme perseverance. My uncle has the wondrous job of an inventor, and his motivation stands: Helping children have a happy, memorable childhood.

Carly Jackson; Missouri, USA



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