Competing company donates therapy vests following unfulfilled order

FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) – Most afternoons, when Gabriel Melo gets home from school, he puts on his super hero vest.

In reality, the six year old’s super hero gear is a therapeutic compression vest, called the “Squease pressure vest.”

“He always says when he leaves the house, ‘The world is so big. The world is just too big for me,'” said Heather Skrutski, Gabriel’s mother. “Something like this, it gives him pressure, and it calms down his nervous system so he can relax a little better.”

Gabriel received his Squease vest, which typically retails for about $300, because of a Call 12 for Action report that aired in September.

As Call 12 for Action reported, a New Bedford woman, Melody Borden, hosted a motorcycle blessing fundraiser and collected enough money to buy eight Snug Vests, a similar inflatable vest advertised for people with autism and sensory issues.

Borden placed the order in July. Gabriel was supposed to be one of the recipients.

“I thought if I could help my great-niece out and a few other children, it would be a great thing, you know?” Borden said.

Borden said $920 was debited from her bank account, but the vests were never delivered.

When Call 12 for Action got involved, Snug Vest promised to fulfill the order, but said it would take months.

“It was definitely a disappointment,” Skrutzki said.

AbleNet, competing company that sells the Squease pressure vest saw Call 12 for Action’s report, and donated their product so the children who were expecting the vests wouldn’t have to wait for the delayed order.

“We knew we had a solution that allowed for a compression vest, and so we reached out and thought let’s help this person out and get that compression vest in the hands of those kids and see if that works for them,” said Jennifer Thalhuber, the President and CEO of AbleNet.

Skruzki said it is working, and she says she’s grateful to the people who responded to our story.

“I knew something good was going to come out of this,” she said.

Borden said she canceled her original Snug Vest order. She’s still waiting for a refund check. When it arrives she said she will return the money to the original donors.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.