A few years ago, Miami Palmetto High School senior Spencer James invented a new product called a G-Shirt. The shirt is a onesie that makes it easier to feed a baby who has a feeding tube. He devised the shirt to help his cousin who has a rare metabolic disorder, Glycogen Storage Disease, that required him to be fed via a feeding tube around the clock.
His cousin was diagnosed with the disorder shortly after birth. James was in fourth grade when his family was grappling with the situation. He was given an assignment at school to create an invention. That challenge led him to design a onesie with a pocket where the feeding tube can be accessed via a Velcro flap.
“In the middle of the night my aunt would wake up and feed him, and undress him,” he says. “Now she could feed him by lifting the flap and avoid waking him up.”
At the time he invented the G-Shirt, it was a big deal. He was even featured on CBS News.
“I got picked to go to the science fair and won a gold medal,” he says. “I have a patent for the invention.”
While the shirt was invented years ago, his family is looking at how to best proceed with making it available to the public.
“We’ve been working on it for many years,” he says. “I made a website, www.gshirt.org.
We’re planning on making many of these G-Shirts to give to hospitals.”
His dad had posted information about the shirt on Facebook which led to people contacting them, saying they wished they had access to a shirt like that when they were going through similar situations as his cousin did.
The family is exploring the possibility that the shirt can help other children.
“My family and I realized we could grow this idea,” he says. “In late middle school and high school, it picked up again. My dad, who is a doctor at Baptist Hospital, has been talking to connections he has to try and manufacture and distribute the G-Shirt.”
The family has been talking to people in the clothing industry, looking at prototypes and production options, and seeking estimates. After COVID, they hope to move forward.
James had hoped to be back at school full-time by now. He had opted for full-time in-person schooling when the surveys went out asking parents what options they wanted.
“Hopefully we can go back as soon as possible,” he says. “It’s my senior year.”
This year, James is the Inter-Club Council liaison in the Senate. Last year he was on the Junior Class Cabinet. He has been on the varsity golf team for the past two years.
James was recognized as a Panther on the Move after his freshman year. He received the George Washington University Book Award this past spring. He’s a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and the Social Studies Honor Society.
He’s a volunteer at Friendship Circle where he attends every other Sunday. Last year he was the recipient of the Friendship Circle Fellowship Award.
For two years, he and a friend volunteered as coaches for the Beth Am Basketball League.
He had played in the league for 12 years and wanted to try coaching. They coached fourth and fifth graders. The first year was a learning experience and they enjoyed some success. But the team they drafted the following spring was outstanding.
“We were the best team in the league and on our way to the championship when sadly the season ended abruptly,” he says.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld