Ben Carter, a 14-year-old severely autistic boy from the United Kingdom, drank exclusively from his beloved “little blue” sippy cup that he’s had since he was a toddler. But when Ben’s favorite sippy cup fell apart, he refused to drink out of anything else.
“He would rather die,” Marc Carter, Ben’s father told PEOPLE. “They put him on a drip in the hospital, but when he woke up he would just rip it out of his arm. I’ve seen him do it before. He just won’t do it because he doesn’t care enough. It is a bodily function to Ben — it is not a pleasure. It is purely a function.”
The Search for a Replacement
Unfortunately, the manufacture no longer makes that specific sippy cup. Marc embarked on an exhaustive search, but came up empty handed. So he took to Twitter and pleaded for help.
PLEASE SHARE!! pic.twitter.com/SzwIYs0Pl8
— Grumpy Carer (@GrumpyCarer) November 14, 2016
Marc, whose stepson Sammi, 24, and daughter Ayesha, 11, also have autism, was blown away by the response from people all over the world eager to help. One of the offers to help came from Tommee Tippee, the company who originally designed it.
Tommee Tippee, owned by the Mayborn Group, set out to find samples of the original cups as soon as they heard.
“About a week was spent to retrieve the tools and to check on their condition … The (original) cup was produced between 2001 to 2003 and production was ceased in December 2003,” Mayborn Group Regional Marketing Manager Michelle Lo told CNN. “Although no leftover sample in the exact color was found, fortunately the manufacturing tools are retrieved and still in good condition.”
Although it may take a bit of time to get the color exactly right, samples have been sent to Ben for his approval.
Four machines and about a dozen workers in a Chinese factory were reassigned for a week to make 1,000 sippy cups for Ben. Lo told CNN that producing Ben’s cups would only cause a small disruption to manufacturing operation.
“We are delighted to confirm that we are able to start production on a run of the original cup,” a spokesman for the company told the BBC. “This will ensure that Ben has a lifetime supply and that his family won’t ever have to worry about finding another cup for Ben.”
For Marc, the lifetime supply of sippy cups is massive.
“I would not be happier if I won the lottery. We’ve moved down to the middle of nowhere and don’t want much,” Marc told the BBC. “Just knowing he has got these cups gives us peace of mind.”
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.