The Reamer familyBy Katie Neitz

Megan ‘92 and Scott Reamer ’93 will gather with their three children and about 150 members of their tight-knit support team on Sunday in Boulder, Colo., to watch their appearance on ABC’s hit entrepreneurial reality show, “Shark Tank.”

It will be an emotional experience for the Reamer family, as footage for the show was filmed just days before their eldest son—the inspiration for and namesake of their business, Jackson’s Honest—passed away at the age of 16 on Aug. 13.

“It will be a way to celebrate Jackson’s life,” Scott says. “A lot of the folks who will be there joined us for Jackson’s memorial service recently, which was a very difficult thing. This will be very emotional, but I think that it will also be cathartic, and it will be help us deal with the loss as we continue to grieve.”

The Reamers were invited to appear on “Shark Tank” in March after an ABC producer read about their company and its inspiring backstory. Megan and Scott founded Jackson’s Honest, a line of nutrient-dense snack chips fried in coconut oil, rather than the standard highly processed polyunsaturated vegetable oils, after seeing how a diet in quality “good” fats benefited their ailing son.

Jackson was a healthy baby, but by the time he was three he weighed 17 pounds and couldn’t walk, talk, or stand. Doctors didn’t have answers or suggestions. Out of desperation, the Reamers overhauled Jackson’s diet, feeding him exclusively good fats, grass-fed meats, and fresh and fermented vegetables—foods that are known to be anti-inflammatory. Jackson responded positively within two weeks. The diet wasn’t a cure, but it dramatically improved his quality of life, enabling him to sleep through the night, put on weight, and play with the three siblings who eventually joined the family.

As part of their new way of eating, the Reamers started frying locally grown potato slices in coconut oil slowly (the key to maintaining the integrity of the oil’s healthy fats) on their stovetop. Upon the urging of friends, the couple decided to bag and brand their creation in 2012, fueled by a mission to share Jackson’s story and educate others who might benefit from a similar dietary approach.

Megan, an English graduate, and Scott, a chemical engineering graduate, managed to turn a pipedream into a thriving operation. Today, Jackson’s Honest is a $10 million enterprise with three facilities, eight full-time employees, and products on the shelves of top-line stores, including Wegmans and Whole Foods, across the country.

As well-established business owners, the Reamers aren’t your typical “Shark Tank” contestants. The show receives about 40,000 applications each season from wanna-be entrepreneurs who give their pocketful-of-dreams pitch to the show’s panel of tycoons (known as “sharks”) in the hope of gaining capital to launch their business.

Megan and Scott initially dismissed the show’s invite to appear, assuming that Jackson’s Honest was too big and mature for the show. But producers explained that they wanted to broaden their scope and start featuring companies at various stages of growth that could still benefit from “shark” funding and mentorship.

“We had a lot of back-and-forth about it, and we ultimately decided to do it because everything we do revolves around sharing Jackson’s story,” Megan says. “Our company’s intention and mission start and end with Jackson, and this will enable us to reach a wider audience.”

Scott adds that the “Shark Tank” experience will also further their business acumen.

“We feel a responsibility to treat the business the best way we can,” he says. “Our company prospered and blew up in a big way even though we had zero experience. We are just so humbled by it all. We feel that this will be a great opportunity for us to get some valuable coaching that will help guide us so we can continue to fulfill our mission.”

Scott and Megan, who met at Lafayette in 1990, traveled to Los Angeles this summer to tape the on-set portion of their segment, where they met the show’s “sharks” and presented their story. Although the Reamers can’t discuss the specific details of the show or the outcome of their pitch until the episode airs, they said they received positive feedback.

“The ‘sharks’ told us how it’s very hard to be an entrepreneur under the best of circumstances,” Megan says. “They were impressed by the fact that we were able to build our company under such very stressful circumstances. They were very supportive.”

ABC then sent a film crew to Colorado to capture the Reamers’ home life with their four children Aug. 10, three days before Jackson passed away.

“It’s still very raw,” Megan says. “But when we launched our company we had to get comfortable talking about what we were going through. It was upsetting to discuss at times. But the response we received from people was so overwhelming. We realized there are a lot of people out there trying to find answers and a large community of parents and caretakers and individuals struggling. That’s been the most rewarding part—connecting with people and having Jackson’s story resonate with people.”

To further advance their mission, the Reamers also founded the Jackson’s Honest Charitable Foundation, which supports patients with Aicardi-Goutières syndrome, the extremely rare disorder Jackson was eventually diagnosed with in 2014. In February, in honor of Rare Disease Month, Jackson’s Honest donates all of its online proceeds to support the treatment of rare diseases. “We are hopeful that the exposure we get from ‘Shark Tank’ will help us advance our charitable efforts,” Megan says.

To learn more about the Reamers, donate to Jackson’s Honest Foundation, and find stores that carry Jackson’s Honest, visit jacksonshonest.com.

Shark Tank airs Sundays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

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