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Davidsonian With ALS Expresses Hope for Many on the TEDxTalks  Stage

by | Oct 14, 2020 | News

Lights, Camera, Action! (Bill Giduz photo)


No matter what its physical size, the TEDx stage is the biggest on the planet. There have been more than 80 million views of TEDxTalks at Millions of people attend TEDx stage presentations to hear carefully vetted speakers about the most important issues of our day.

Faulkner and his care giver, Carolyn Farling, arrive at the TEDxCharlotte studio in Charlotte (Bill Giduz photo)

It is a significant honor to be selected as a TEDx speaker. Charlotte-area TEDxCharlotte licensee Winn Maddrey said the selection panel chose Davidson resident Roger Faulkner as a presenter, “…Not because he has a compelling story of living with a fatal disease. TEDx and TEDxCharlotte look for a thesis at the heart of it, an idea to share. We want ideas that make people think about what they’re hearing.”

That was how Faulkner made it onto the annual TEDxCCharlotte TEDx stage, which was taped this year in a theatre on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University, at WonderWorld West End Studios. Faulkner wasn’t presenting a pity-party tale of what it is like to live in a wheelchair as a victim of the incurable and fatal disease, ALS. He titled his 16.20 minutes in the TEDx spotlight “The Power of Invention,” in reference to his invention of a device that could give victims of ALS and other neurological afflictions, like COPD, sleep apnea, and asthma, a measure of relief and freedom of movement.

Faulkner breathes now from the straw fitted to his lips. (Bill Giduz photo)

Sipping air through a large sort of straw bent to fit his lips, Faulkner began speaking, “I found out that I have ALS on August 17, 2015,” and proceeded to explain the technology behind his invention, the “Conformal Vest Ventilator.”

Last minute adjustments for Faulkner on the TEDx stage. (Bill Giduz photo)

As the name implies, this device can be worn like a vest under clothing. It expands and contracts around the chest cavity to provide a semblance of normal breathing to patients as they gradually lose breathing and all other power of movement. The vest also eliminates the need for bulky and unsightly hardware in the mouth, nose, or trachea that can cause deadly infections.

Roger is a “serial inventor,” attracted to big problems with an environmental connection related to energy, technology, and materials science. He has obtained several patents for products and hopes the vest will go further and attract corporate funding for production.

Faulkner’s talk along with other area “ideas worth sharing,” will be posted to the TEDxCharlotte TEDx site later this year. It also may be considered for higher level website and broadcast, if it is deemed worthy.

“The Power of Invention,” Faulkner’s 16 minutes in the TEDx spotlight, concluded with a call to viewers to keep thinking. He said, “I want to encourage all of you to believe that you can pursue your passions and change the world, no matter what your situation…If you have a burning desire to do something, don’t let impediments stop you from acting. Even if you fail, at the very least, you will have tried. And when it is your turn to die, there will be no regrets.”


Bill Giduz

Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.

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