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By Eddie Marotta '19

Bradley Stumpp, a client systems specialist at John Carroll, found himself looking for ways to positively impact the community as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold.

Utilizing JCU’s 3D printers, Stumpp began creating plastic clips that attach the earpieces of reusable PPE masks to improve comfortability for those who are required to wear it for extensive periods of time. 

His journey to helping others stemmed from a revelation he had early on during the COVID-19 crisis. 

“I feel that a lot of us feel really powerless against this,” he said. “There’s certainly a case to be made for doing your part and staying home -- and that’s helping out the greater community -- but, I don’t really like to sit idle. Obviously, I’m not going to contribute in a medical fashion, but I can contribute with some of the expertise I have at 3D printing.” 

Initially, Stumpp was focused on printing 3D masks. 

Terri Lewandowski ‘78, a member of the John Carroll University Board of Directors, and Sister Katherine Feely, director of the Center for Service and Social Action, helped him work toward a solution to a problem many people in a hospital setting face: the comfortability of masks when worn for extensive periods of time. 

After engineering an plastic piece that fits behind the mask wearer’s ear, Brad gained clearance to distribute the hardware and partnered with the PAST Foundation through connections networked by Lewandowski and Feely. The Foundation distributes the masks to hospitals around the greater-Columbus area and is spreading their reach further by the day. Brad uses his home as an office to print the clips, which take 30 to 40 minutes per piece to create.

The determination and persistence Stumpp has shown has been evident to all those working with him throughout the course of the effort.

“Working with Brad was inspirational,” Lewandowski said. “Every time we ran into a bit of a roadblock, he had an idea about how we could keep going. He never gave up on contributing. And turns out it was a series of JCU folks that made it work: Brad and Sister Katherine reaching out to us in Columbus, then we found the PAST Foundation and Parker Cavendish ’17 who connected us to another OSU medical student who was in charge of distribution of the mask bands. It is a small world when Blue Streaks work together.”

I wanted to be able to contribute. I didn’t just want to sit back and let this whole thing blow over. As a gesture to our medical professionals, I wanted to help out.

Stumpp’s reason for giving back moves beyond the challenges we are all facing on a day-to-day basis in the current global climate. 

“My brother-in-law is in the Air Force,” he said. “He’s a doctor and was deployed to New York. I started hearing stories about things that are going on at the hospital that he’s working at in the Bronx, and I have a very direct relationship with him. It just kind of makes me think of all the people that are going through that kind of stuff -- having to wear PPE 24 hours a day -- he goes to sleep in a corner of a large gymnasium.” 

While the focus is on helping others, Brad recognized the influence John Carroll has had on this project, and why the University has been so important during this time.

“I can’t even begin to say how awesome it is to have the kind of support that I do. I’ve never had the answer ‘no’ to anything that I’ve wanted to do. It’s always been, ‘How are we going to make this happen?’ So, it’s really just a team of people behind me.”

In fact, Brad’s decision to come to John Carroll stemmed from his desire to help others in need. 

“I think it was really the mission,” he said. “We focus so heavily on helping the community. That really blew me away. After I was hired, I realized that this isn’t just something we’re saying -- we’re actually doing a lot.” 

Stumpp and many others in the John Carroll community are actively seeking to make a difference, even while they are limited to the space in their homes. He serves as an example of John Carroll’s mission to serve those in need, and has done so by using his expertise.