Tim Jahnigen has always followed his heart, whether as a carpenter, a chef, a lyricist or now as an entrepreneur. So in 2006, when he saw a documentary about children in Darfur who found solace playing soccer with balls made out of garbage and string, he was inspired to do something about it.
The children, he learned, used trash because the balls donated by relief agencies and sporting goods companies quickly ripped or deflated on the rocky dirt that doubled as soccer fields. Kicking a ball around provided such joy in otherwise stressful and trying conditions that the children would play with practically anything that approximated a ball.
During the next two years, Mr. Jahnigen, who was also working to develop an infrared medical technology, searched for something that could be made into a ball but never wear out, go flat or need a pump.
Mr. Jahnigen has developed a fifth generation of the ball, which is rounder than earlier versions. He carries samples around the world to conferences, potential buyers and sponsors. For effect, he crushes them and even drives cars over them. All of them bounce and hold their shape. By his estimate, the ball can last for 30 years, eliminating the need for thousands of hand-sewn leather balls that are typically donated by relief agencies.
Also, Sting payed for the development. Definitely a way to get better publicity than just doing good deeds or creating an awesome product that can be a game (pun intended) changer.