By Anne Marie Amacher
“Pray as you go.” That’s the slogan for Wayne Kneeskern’s custom-made, hand-crafted steering wheel cover with the rosary embedded in it. Now drivers can pray while keeping both hands on the wheel, said Kneeskern, a member of Ss. Joseph & Cabrini Parish in Richland.
The idea has been in the works for about six years and developed while the Richland resident drove to and from work, about a 15-20-minute commute each way. He knew of people who recited the rosary on their commutes to work, but he was not one to use the rosary in his car at that point. He didn’t think it was safe to be thumbing a rosary and driving at the same time.
A near-accident involving friends of his daughter inspired Kneeskern’s idea for a rosary designed for the car. She told him the couple almost hit a deer during their drive to a party. For the rest of the ride the couple recited the rosary.
“I really wasn’t into praying the rosary, but I thought there had to be something better than trying to hold a rosary and the steering wheel at the same time,” Kneeskern said. So he decided to put a rosary right into a steering wheel.
Kneeskern bought a stretchy fabric steering wheel cover and added some stick pins for medals and silver-colored rivets for beads. He showed it to his wife and daughter. Then he made one for each of them and tinkered with options for other steering wheel rosaries.
He found that lapel pins work better than stick pins. Silver isn’t everyone’s favorite color, so to customize for personal use, he found a distributor that offered synthetic, colored stones.
The steering wheel rosaries also include two crucifixes and one risen Christ pin from which to choose. More than a dozen centerpieces are available including medals of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Miraculous Medal, St. Andrew and St. Thomas Aquinas. Bead choices are domed or flat nickel-plated rivets or synthetic stones in various colors. Steering wheel covers also are available in different colors and materials: leather, sheepskin, velour and stress reliever design. Kneeskern hand-makes the steering wheel rosaries; it’s a one-person operation at the present time. “I waited until I was retired, and then I spent some time working on it.”
In addition to the travel rosary, Kneeskern is working on an insulated cooler for aluminum cans called a TRIC (travel rosary insulated coolie). He has the concept worked out, but has yet to have any produced.
Praying the rosary alone is not for everyone. So Kneeskern produced a CD to play in the car that includes the rosary and all the mysteries. He enlisted help from a friend he met on a business trip several years ago who is an accomplished Russian concert pianist. Igor Nesterov agreed to record the background music for Kneeskern.
A website was developed with the help of Sambit Bhattarai, whom Kneeskern considers his “adopted son from Nepal.”
Bhattarai and Kneeskern worked together for more than eight years and spent many lunch hours brainstorming business ideas. “From that, the TravelRosary evolved into reality,” Kneeskern said.
Bhattarai developed and maintains the website of www.travelrosary.com.
Kneeskern’s son, Scott, collaborated with his father and is the creative director. He designed the art for the CDs, website and business cards.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my dad on this project,” said Scott. “Ever since I was little I have watched my dad come up with fun ideas. To now be able to work side-by-side with him has been a wonderful adventure. I am convinced that the Travel Rosary is a useful and valuable product for people of the Catholic faith. I can truly say that this product is not a gimmick, but a legitimate and genuine labor of love from my dad’s heart.
“He shows this through his commitment to donating a portion of profits to Catholic charities and donating his time in the local Catholic community.”
Five percent of the proceeds from all sales will be donated to different Catholic charities, Kneeskern said.
Kneeskern is working on a patent for the Travel Rosary and has registered it with the State of Iowa. He also is working to get it copyrighted as well.