Irwin Industrial Tools, a Newell Rubbermaid company and maker of the Irwin VISE-GRIP, recently announced that Dr. Bryan Fox of Chesapeake, Va., was selected as the winner of the “Tell Us Your Irwin VISE-GRIP Story” promotion. Fox, an orthopedic surgeon for the United States Navy, was honored for using an Irwin VISE-GRIP to perform spinal surgery during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A member of the U.S. Navy for more than 25 years, Fox found a unique use for his VISE-GRIP as a spine surgeon on the battlefield in the Middle East. In the heat of battle, he needed to perform emergency spinal surgery on a soldier who had a combination of screws and rods that had been implanted into his infected spine. Complicating the medical challenges at hand, Fox did not have access to the specialized tools necessary to deal with the soldier’s different spine implants.

Fox did, however, have access to a pair of VISE-GRIP locking pliers. He sterilized his VISE-GRIP tools and used them to remove the rods and screws from the soldier’s infected spine, effectively saving his life.

As the winner of the promotion, Fox was awarded an Irwin VISE-GRIP custom-branded chopper valued at $25,000, built by East Coast Custom Cycles.

“As a lifelong fan of Irwin VISE-GRIP tools, I’m thrilled to be selected as the winner of the ‘Tell Us Your VISE-GRIP Story’ contest,” said Fox. “Irwin VISE-GRIP tools allowed me to save lives on the battlefield. If you can’t fix it with VISE-GRIP tools, duct tape and a bigger hammer - it can’t be fixed.”

For years, Irwin has received hundreds of unsolicited stories from professional tradesmen, contractors and do-it-yourselfers about the unique ways they’ve used a VISE-GRIP product outside of its traditional use to solve various problems either in a pinch or as a permanent solution. From July-October 2008, consumers were asked to share the different and exceptional ways they have used VISE-GRIP locking pliers or wrenches to solve various problems in the workplace or at home.

Irwin received more than 850 stories describing how consumers used VISE-GRIP tools in different situations ranging from spine surgery to car repair during the length of the promotion. Fifty submissions were selected as finalists and consumers voted to select the best three entries. The winner was selected from the top three finalists by a panel of judges made up of industry experts in education, training, retail, motorsports and manufacturing.

The other finalists for the promotion were Paul Schraps of San Rafael, Calif., and Paul Smith of Valley Center, Calif., who won second and third place, respectively. Schraps shared how he held his truck’s exhaust system together while driving his mother to receive cancer treatments in Mexico. Those same VISE-GRIP locking pliers are still holding Schraps’ exhaust system together 28 years later. Smith lost a brake line during the grueling Baja 500, and he used his VISE-GRIP locking pliers to maintain power on his remaining brakes to finish the difficult race.

Schraps was awarded a $1,000 Cabela’s gift card for his second-place entry and Smith received a $500 Cabela’s gift card for his third-place entry. All three finalists received an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas where the grand prize was awarded.

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