UCF, Orlando City Soccer give 6-year-old boy bionic arm
The student-founded nonprofit Limbitless Solutions partnered with Orlando City Soccer to give a 6-year-old boy from Brazil a bionic arm Friday.
Paulo Costa Boa Nova and his father Claudio Boa Nova traveled from Brazil to Orlando to meet with Limbitless Solutions, the group of UCF students that created the 3-D printed arm, courtesy of Orlando Health, according to a press release.
Paulo was born with a genetic defect that left him with a partial arm. With his new 3-D printed arm, themed after one of Brazil's soccer teams, Paulo will now be able to grab objects using his right arm, which he could not do before.
UCF spokeswoman Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala said the team had to create a new design for Paulo because of his specific partial arm. The team custom built the arm to fit Paulo's needs.
Translating for Paulo, Claudio said the personalized design was Paulo's favorite thing about the arm.
"[The team] delivers a real dream to my son and for me," Claudio said. "I'm very happy because I think this arm can improve more agility for my son to grab and pick up things."
The family was brought to the Major League Soccer club's training facility in Sanford on Friday to meet the team and receive Paulo's arm.
"As an organization, we are thrilled to partner with UCF and Orlando Health for this very special presentation to Paulo," Leonardo Santiago, the team's vice president of communications, said in the release. "[Paulo's] got the true heart of a Lion, having shown tremendous spirit and courage. Hats off as well to the Limbitless Solutions team from UCF on their hard work and dedication — they have changed Paulo's life, and those of many other children, for the better."
Fellow Brazilians and Orlando City players Kaka and Pedro Ribeiro were there, as well as goalkeeper Tally Hall and defender Aurelien Collin, to kick a soccer ball around with Paulo and Limbitless Solutions members.
Past Limbitless-arm recipient 8-year-old Alex Pring was also at the training facility with his mother to welcome Paulo's family. Paulo shook Pring's hand and kicked a soccer ball with him as well.
Claudio was equally touched to meet someone like his son.
"Paulo is very happy, they almost have the same age," he said. "We are very excited to meet Alex because he has the same difficulty that Paulo has. I believe this process to meet others equal with the same problems is very important to him to show it [can] happen to anyone."
Claudio said the work is not done for him and his family. Once they go back to Brazil, the work will begin as they get Paulo adjusted to his new arm.
"I'm very excited to see the next step of my son. I want to see him growing with his hand," he said.
The family will meet Marvel superheroes Saturday at Universal Studios, and will then head to the Orlando Citrus Bowl where Paulo, Claudio and several Limbitless Solutions team members will be recognized during the Lions' match against the New York Red Bulls, the release states.
In the past year, Limbitless Solutions became a nonprofit and has delivered six prosthetic arms to children throughout the nation. Each custom-made arm is delivered in a special way based on the child's interest. Earlier this summer, Stratasys, a 3-D printer company, donated one of its newest printers to help the team continue its efforts.
"This is what it is all about," said Limbitless Solutions founder Albert Manero as he watched Paulo flex his new arm and smile. "To change a life, to make a difference. That's why we do this."
Amelia Truong is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Ameliatruong or email her at AmyT@CentralFloridaFuture.com.