The low point for Delaney Dixon?
Probably when her fingernails and toenails fell off.
“I was sitting on the couch for about three weeks and I had to take this medicine that demolished me. I lost my fingernails and toenails, most foods would upset my stomach. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that that went away,” said Dixon.
The Windsor 6th grader has finally fully recovered from her battle with Lyme Disease, which began in June of 2019. However, her ordeal against the tick-borne malady could have a lasting impact - in a good way.
“I was at dinner one night almost done with my medicine and thought, ‘I don’t want this to happen to any other people,’” said Dixon.
That’s when she thought of what would become the Tick Stik, a device with a camera and mechanism that will allow a user to find and remove ticks from any spot on their body.
I drew something on a piece of paper and showed it to my dad. He said, ‘This could work,’” said Dixon. “After I started to get into the design part of it, I looked it up and didn’t find anything that could do what this does.”
But the Dixons couldn’t make the Tick Stik a reality on their own. So, they enlisted the help of Binghamton University. This school year, the Dixons have worked with students in the university’s mechanical engineering department to develop a prototype and soon, a working product.
“It is an awesome experience. We meet every week and have gone through a rigorous review and revision process. The team we were assigned is a bright, talented group of engineering students, and we have a faculty advisor as well. Honestly, even if nothing were to come of the idea the experience of working with a major university like Binghamton on a project is pretty awesome. It’s not something you get to do very often,” said Chris Dixon, Delaney’s father.
The team at Binghamton University sees the potential in the product, and its creator.
“I’m really interested in it because there’s nothing like it on the market when it comes to self-care,” said mechanical engineering student Justin Adamczak. “And (Delaney) really wants this to work.”
“I actually volunteered to lead this project because I thought it was interesting, could make a big impact, and was achievable by the students by the end of the year,” said Peter Huang, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Binghamton University. “It’s good to have Delaney. She’s giving input and sharing her experience with tick removal. It’s giving the students good perspective.”
“Mr. Dixon is really supportive, really nice. He actively participates in brain storming. Delaney is really nice. She’s kind of quiet but really puts her effort into it,” said mechanical engineering student Jungwok Oh.
Chris Dixon is thrilled to see his daughter’s design come to life.
“We are really proud, but honestly also not surprised. Delaney has a very refined sense of design and engineering for someone her age, and she loves to help people. It’s not a shock to me that she would come up with a product that intersects both,” said Chris Dixon.
A flash of inspiration that may soon help countless other avoid a debilitating disease.
“That’s exactly why I did this,” said Delaney.