Limbitless Solutions, a volunteer-based nonprofit that creates 3D printed bionic arms for children with missing limbs, raised more than $6,000 Saturday toward its global initiative for children in Syria with a community event at Knights Plaza.
“Our goal is to really impact the world and show people that, with some engineering and with some art, you can make such a difference,” said Limbitless Solutions' founder Albert Manero, who is currently pursuing his doctorate in mechanical engineering at UCF.
The family event included an inflatable zone for kids, music and a local-celebrity rib-eating contest.
Limbitless and local partner company Romacorp, Inc. held the event to raise money to build 75 bionic arms, as well as to put together care packages containing books, and deliver them to children in Syria who have been displaced and injured by conflict.
“3D printing has a really good potential for doing this type of expansion because you can just crank out the parts and assemble them after,” said Michael Gonzalez, a member of the Limbitless Solutions team and mechanical engineering major at UCF.
About 200 people showed up to the fundraiser, and Limbitless raised more than $6,000 at the event, which will be put toward the overall goal of $40,000 to create and deliver the arms and books in 2016.
Limbitless has also set up an online campaign for donations, and Burger U on campus donated part of each order during the event toward Limbitless’ campaign.
“None of the kids have paid for the arms and we want to keep that going,” said Dominique Courbin, the director of production for Limbitless and UCF mechanical engineering student. “The only way to do that is to get more community and corporate involvement.”
UCF participation gives Limbitless a platform to raise awareness and make a difference, Manero said. Limbitless partnered with Help Syria and will deliver the bionic arms to the association’s doctors in Syria, who will fit and fasten the arms for the children.
Gonzalez said that although the hardest part will be the sustainability of the effort, Limbitless is working with partners in those regions to make sure they have the knowledge necessary to maintain the arms and keep them up to date.
“We’re working on the process of improving both the efficiency and reliability of our systems so that they can last longer in those types of environments,” Gonzalez said.
Limbitless has created a hashtag, “#3Dhope,” to help spread awareness and gain support for its global operation, and encourages people to use the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.
Special guests were 7-year-old Alex Pring, the first person to get a bionic arm from Limbitless Solutions and whose latest Iron Man model was given to him by Robert Downey, Jr., and 12-year-old Wyatt Falardeau, who was given his arm by the Blue Man Group.
The boys said they enjoyed talking to guests about their bionic arms.
“It’s not, ‘Why do you have a little arm? Why are you different?’” said Alyson Pring, Alex’s mother. “It’s ‘Why are you so awesome?’ instead of, ‘What’s wrong with you?’”
The Limbitless team said it is excited to branch out to Syria in the upcoming year.
“This started just as a summer project that we were paying for out of pocket, and now we are officially a nonprofit,” Manero said.
Sarah Gangraw is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.