Nothing stops 10-year-old Julianna Linton from tumbling around with her team and doing one-handed cartwheels — not even the fact that she is missing her left arm.
A congenital amputation caused by amniotic band syndrome left Juliana missing her arm above the elbow, but now, thanks to Limbitless Solutions, the young cheerleader became the 15th child to receive a 3-D-printed bionic arm, according to a press release.
Yesterday, the Linton family made their way to UCF for a surprise Julianna would never forget. UCF’s cheerleading team, led by head coach Linda Gooch, toured Julianna and her family around campus, ending at the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Knightro, UCF’s mascot, presented a box holding Julianna’s new arm and a set of pom-poms, according to the release.
“We are so honored to be part of this day,” Gooch said. “Limbitless Solutions is amazing, and we couldn’t wait for today to see Julianna, show her a little bit of our school pride and have her share her talents with us. I can’t wait to get her out on the field.”
After a bit of practice with her new arm, Julianna joined the UCF cheerleaders on the field in a cheer clinic held on her behalf. The award-winning team tossed her in the air, helped her with stunts and taught her a few cheers.
“My favorite part was getting the arm today. I think it will help me with my cheering. I love to fly,” said Julianna, who performed more than 20 cartwheels across the stadium field according to the release.
Limbitless founder Albert Manero got in on the action as Julianna gave him a few cheer tips before the cheerleaders lifted him in the air.
“We want children to know, especially girls, that there are no limits,” Manero said. “We want them to dream big and then go after it. That’s really important. You can be smart, beautiful and strong and do it all here at UCF.”
Julianna’s parents, Clark and Kathleen Linton, watched their daughter while her sister, Alyssa, took pictures all day.
“If there are 10,000 things someone with two arms can do, Julianna can already do 9,900,” said Clark Linton. “We’ve always focused on what she can do, not what she can’t. I think this new arm will give her the opportunity to do even more. The technology is advancing so rapidly, Julianna has a chance to grow with the technology that may help her later on in life and won’t limit her career opportunities.”
Limbitless Solutions launched as a student volunteer group in 2014 after delivering its first arm to then 6-year-old Alex Pring with help from actor Robert Downey Jr. Since then, the nationally recognized group has gifted many children with bionic arms. There are more than 500 families who have applied to the program for an arm, according to the press release.
See Julianna perform with the Knights cheerleading team on its official Facebook page.
Rosie Reitze is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @rosie_ucf or email her at RosieR@centralfloridafuture.com.