When Dane Allard’s paternal grandmother passed away two years ago, he decided it was time to put the finishing touch on something he had been working on for a long time: He decided to create a bracelet signifying the special relationship between children and their adoptive parents.
The result was the KOPA Band, a two-piece bracelet that first went on the market in October of last year. In the time since, the bracelet has been patented and sold to people in at least 30 states and four countries, including Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United States.
“It’s actually the only two-piece bracelet in the world right now,” said Allard, a 30-year-old Hillsboro resident.
What makes the bracelet unique is that it has a “turn key lock” mechanism that allows halves of the bracelets to be interchangeable. So, when two people have one, they can each give one half to each other, symbolizing their relationship.
“Wearing a KOPA Band means you’re making a statement that we are all part of one world that is Better Together. No matter our differences, we must all be the change we want to see,” says the KOPA website, www.mykopa.com. “Sharing this band with someone signifies a shared mindset and a personal bond.”
Proceeds from the sale of the bracelets benefit organizations that promote adoption, like the Davis Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Jockey Being Family and Highland County Foster Care.
From Dec. 1-23, all local sale proceeds will benefit Highland County Foster Care. As a result, just before Christmas, all children in the Highland County foster care system will receive a 17-inch book bag with a leather KOPA symbol on it. They will have a gift bag inside containing things like maybe a teddy bear, depending on the child’s age.
KOPA also sells short- and long-sleeved T-shirts. The bracelets ($10 locally and $13 online) and shirts are available locally at Downtown Drug, where Allard works as a pharmacist, Holtfield Station, Shear Savage Salon & Spa LLC, and Terry’s Grocery & Pizza; or on the website.
There are plans to market a hat, but Allard said for the time being, he thought the book bags for local foster care children were more important.
It all started when Allard was a college student and things like Silly Bandz and friendship bracelets were a trend. He has been working and building on the idea since, largely because his father, Dave Allard, and others he knows were adopted.
“It’s like Dad said the other night. If it wasn’t for grandma and my grandfather, none of us would have families,” Dane Allard said.
The whole idea from the beginning, Dane Allard said, was to promote adoption. After years of toying around with the idea, then finally settling on what he wanted to do, he is now seeing the fruits of his labor. He said he recently received communication from professional golfer Bubba Watson, who works with Jockey Being Family and has adopted children, and received letters in September and October this year from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, to which at least 20 percent of KOPA proceeds are normally directed.
One of the letters from Rita L. Soronen, president and CEO of the foundation, said in part, “It is an honor to thank you for your donation to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Your commitment to children and youth without permanent families is allowing us to work tirelessly on their behalf… I am so grateful for your investment in this life-changing work. For the 117,000 children and youth in the United States who are still waiting for a family and a home, your gift will continue to make all the difference.”
Several local residents around Dane Allard’s age, including his brother Ren, brother-in-law Dylan Hunter, and Kyle Edison, among others, are helping with the project.
Allard said that with the nation’s drug crisis overloading the foster care system, something keeping people aware of adoption may be more important now than ever. He also said that in the U.S., it costs roughly $35,000 to $40,000 to adopt a child, which is why many people adopt children from other countries.
“I saw a fact that there’s more foundations to help animals get adopted than to help children get adopted,” Allard said. “We all love animals, and we’ve even had two adopted dogs, but there’s a disconnect there. Maybe we should help the children first. What little we can do, we’re going to do it.”
Allard probably would not want people to know the number of hours or amount of money he has invested in the project, not to mention the years and money it took to secure a patent. He only said it’s a lot, and that his thought a couple years ago was that even if he lost all his money, he had to try.
“The end goal, which is impossible,” he said, “is to help all the children waiting for adoption find a forever family. And as we grow and give more and more, that’s three, four, five more kids that get adopted. One act of kindness can change a lot.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.