Russell Kish ’24 has never met A.J. Quetta.
Residing in Malibu, California, and currently learning virtually at Babson College, Kish was initially unaware of Quetta, the Massachusetts high school hockey player whose January spinal cord injury rocked amateur and professional ice hockey communities around the region.
But, when Kish banded together with seven other Babson students in Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) business Worry Watchers—which, in just a few short weeks, raised more than $2,000 by selling bracelets, at least half of which will go to Quetta’s recovery—he along with other members of the group now feel like they’ve done more than just start a company.
“It’s rewarding to see all of our work in a real-life setting,” Kish said.
One of the Worry Watchers team members specifically touched by the project is Justin Clark ’24, who attended Bishop Feehan High School with Quetta in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and considers him a good friend.
“It’s heartbreaking; you can never imagine this could happen to someone so close to you,” Clark said. “I was thinking, ‘What could I do specifically to help.’ ”
Bracelets weren’t the original venture idea for the team. In fact, the group underwent a number of pivots, starting with a task management app intended to assist students in logging assignments, with several group members until Porter Clancy ’24 helped the team land on its current idea of bracelets during winter break. Jake Ross ‘24 then brought the idea of a special edition of the bracelet dedicated to Quetta to the line.
“I had realized that we needed to incorporate a bracelet into our product line in order to provide more awareness for A.J. and AJ’s Army,” Ross said. “The idea is for someone to ask one of our customers about their bracelet, and then that customer would explain the bracelet’s meaning, providing awareness for A.J.’s cause.”
All iterations of the product featured either brass beads or a copper pipe fidget toy, which helps wearers simplistically manage stress or anxiety at a time when the need for young adults is incredibly great.
“We see people deal with anxiety and stress in different forms, whether that be through leg bouncing or something else of that nature,” Keyla Flores ’24 said. “People don’t necessarily want everyone in the class to know they might be panicking internally.”
Clancy, a hockey player himself, was particularly left shaken and moved due to the nature of the injury, which saw Quetta crash headfirst into the boards.
“It could have happened to anyone,” he said.
The business was open for seven weeks and closed up shop as all FME companies are required to do earlier this month.
Though at least 50 percent of proceeds will go to Quetta’s recovery, there remains potential for an even greater sum of the team’s final amount raised to be donated.
“It, for all of us, has been eye-opening,” Harsh Bagdy ’24 said. “Being able to run a business taught us a lot. The fact that at the end of it all we get to donate our profits to A.J., it’s powerful. We get to see a direct impact.”
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