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"Upsee" Steps onto the Market

Sales open for special needs walking device.

On Sunday, MSNBC’s Craig Melvin spoke with Debby Elnatan, the creator of a device designed to help children with special mobility needs move more freely and take their very first steps. It was one of the Big Ideas this weekend. Now, that invention is hitting the market all around the world.

Elnatan was inspired to create the Firefly Upsee after learning that her cerebral palsied son had no awareness of his own legs, when he was two years old. Determined to do whatever she could for him, Elnatan experimented with different ropes, shoes and harnesses before landing on a final design. The child wearing an Upsee is upright against an adult’s front, strapped to their waist and fitted into a double set of shoes that moves the child’s legs as the adult walks.

That design was manufactured by special needs developer Firefly, and seems to have created some major buzz when it went on sale Monday.

It was a “crazy day,” Elnatan told us in a follow-up interview Tuesday. “The enormous demand for Upsees was unexpected.” She was amazed at how widespread the need was for the product, with orders spanning 54 countries from Germany to Iran to South Africa.

She said that at one point, so many users were trying to buy the Upsee that the website crashed from all the activity. Many customers were understanding though, according to comments received via the Firefly Facebook page.

“I have waited seven years for a product like this, I can wait a little longer,” one user said. Others commented they were eager  to receive their Upsee, including one who claimed to have patiently waited four hours to order and another who said the product is “making special needs history.”

“There’s something almost magical about it,” said Elnatan. “Your family is important, and this could be something to mainstream your child’s life.”

The Upsee sells for $489 and is available in a range of sizes and colors through the Firefly website.

To watch Debby Elnatan describe the Firefly Upsee to Craig Melvin on our “What’s the Big Idea?” segment, click here.

And do you have a big idea that may make a difference?  Email it to us at or tweet about it on Twitter using the hashtag #WhatsTheBigIdea