Fighting for the Dignity of Independence

Author: Brandon Tabor

Fighting For The Dignity Of Independence

In 2014, Shawn Sexton ’88 was diagnosed with bulbar onset sporadic ALS. Realizing he would gradually lose his ability to walk, communicate and eat, he and his son, John, set out to create opportunities for independence. Together they designed EyeDrive, an assistive technology that allows Shawn to adjust and drive his wheelchair using eye gaze technology. EyeDrive is one of three current solutions provided by John’s startup, LifeDrive, which also provides voice- and caregiver-controlled solutions.

John—a Sorin Society Scholar—is now a senior at Notre Dame and a participant in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program, which, along with the IDEA Center, has helped move LifeDrive from an at-home project to an expanded medical device company. John continues to lead its progress to commercialization and distribution, and he hopes it will soon help other patients like his dad find more independence.

“To try and get this to patients by the time that we graduate is daunting and challenging, but it pales in comparison to the needs of those patients that we’re trying to serve,” John says. He explains that getting LifeDrive to patients is so important because not only does it give them technology and independence, but it gives them hope. That hope, he says, can be life-giving.


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