Danielle Rivers' life has turned out quite differently than what she'd expected when she moved to Jacksonville a few years ago.
"I'm originally from Washington. I came down here about 10 years ago to look for real estate deals for investors," Rivers said. "I love real estate. I thought it was what I was going to doing for the rest of my life."
It wasn't. In 2011, Rivers was assaulted.
"I was jogging down on the Riverwalk when I was attacked by a homeless guy," Rivers said.
Rivers fought him, and he pulled a knife. She was stabbed 25 times. She survived, and appeared in court to testify against him.
"He'd done this to other women, I found out after I learned more about him," Rivers said. "I thought it was important to get him off the streets."
Unfortunately, Rivers's health problems didn't end there.
Rivers said, "I developed hives as a result of the wounds, and that required prednisone, which caused me to add 80 pounds in six months. Then a herniated disk put me in the hospital. It was a bad time; I was the only breadwinner in my family at that time."
Bedridden and getting few answers as to what she could do, Rivers researched healing on her laptop.
"I went down to Honduras to visit a healer, who treated me with herbs. When I returned four weeks later, I asked the doctors to do another MRI, which I had to pay for," Rivers said. "The doctors said, 'I don't know what happened, but we must have made a mistake.' The mass in my pancreas had reduced."
Rivers wanted to know why she had been misdiagnosed, and had a doctor test her vitamin levels. She found that was Vitamin D deficient. The doctor told her to buy the highest dosage pills she could buy over-the-counter. She did, and was tested again at her own expense. Her levels improved, but the whole experience just made her more upset at medicine.
"Nutrition should be a basic part of medicine. We should be able to know our nutritional condition, without a lot of copays," she said. "The doctors couldn't tell me what the levels of vitamins in my blood was, and I could have spent that four weeks healing. The mass on my pancreas reduced, but what if I hadn't?"
As Rivers Rivers got stronger, she looked to get back into investment, not in real estate this time, but in health care technology. She found a device that could test the vitamin levels in our blood.
She said, "The technology has been around since 1994, but wasn't in use. The inventor wasn't doing anything with it, and the patent was ready to expire. We applied for it and received it."
She's started a company that intends to build and sell the testing machines.
"I'd like to see it in every pharmacy and supermarket, the way that blood pressure testing machines are — free to everyone who walks in," she said.
Rivers is determined to use her own experiences to effect change.
"It make me energized to get up each morning and move the project forward, despite what doors may close to me. We have a God-given right to know what our health is, and the vitamin levels in our bodies," Rivers said.