Misti Staley, FreeArm (40 Under 40)

Misti Staley, FreeArm (40 Under 40)
See more of Arkansas Business' list of rising stars at Presenting the 40 Under 40 Class of 2019.

Misti Staley, 37
Artist, Teacher and Inventor of the FreeArm

After her 10-month-old son, Freeman Ellis Staley, died in 2016, artist and teacher Misti Staley raised $250,000 to build the Freeman Playground in downtown Helena as a memorial to her son and a gift to the area’s children.

While caring for their infant son, who used a feeding tube, Staley and her husband, Will, developed a device she called a “helping hand,” the FreeArm. Staley founded Staley House LLC to manufacture the FreeArm Tube Feeding Assistant, an FDA-registered medical device that helps in the tube feeding of babies, children and others.

She won the 2018 summer cohort Delta Innovation Fund (Delta I-Fund) pitch competition and the 2019 Delta I-Fund Demo Day Audience Choice Award for the device, which can be purchased online. Arkansas Children’s Hospital is using the FreeArm and sending it home with tube-feeding families. And, Staley says, she’s in talks with a home infusion company about a nationwide trial of the FreeArm.

As for her heroes? “Freeman is my hero. He’ll forever be my hero,” Staley said. “He displayed so much strength.”