When I was 8, my family lived in the USA and I was involved in a research and development project for a new company which was reaching out to kids who have had an arm or hand amputated. This company was based at the University of Central Florida and was beginning to build prosthetic arms based on 3D printing, designed with 'hero' characters in mind. Their first candidate was a boy for whom they made an 'Iron Man' arm, which he loved. I was their second subject, and they gave me an arm beautifully painted with a sea scene and dolphins. The hand on the arm would open and close as I clenched and unclenched my upper-arm muscles, and whilst wearing it tended to make doing things more difficult (!), it provided me with confidence when I was out and about. Sadly, within a year or so I had grown out of it, and we had moved back the UK so we are unable to return to that company.
Now, as an athlete, trumpet player and high school student, I am still nervous about being in public. 'Open Bionics' are a company based in the south of England who make 'hero arms' for people like me. Like the company in Florida, their aim is not to create something that looks vaguely like a human arm to enable people to pretend they do not have a difference. Rather, they aim to design far more striking arms, often themed around a superhero or a person's favourite things. Knowing how much such prosthetics cost, now that I have finished growing, it seems a good time to explore the possibility of a 'hero arm' to last into my future.
As someone who enjoys working with younger children, it is so common for them to ask at the outset, 'What happened to your arm / hand?' A hero arm would make a world of difference, because it can change the conversation to 'Wow - can I look at your arm?' More broadly, whilst I do not need a prosthetic for all the usual activities in life, I know that it would do a huge amount to grow my self-confidence as I move through my last few years of schooling and off into university.
In order to progress with my application to Open Bionics, however, I need to raise as much as possible towards the cost of the arm. Whilst the cost has come down hugely in the last decade, it is still going to be somewhere in the region of $12000 to $18000, so I am starting this GoFundMe page as part of the fundraising for that target - a target I hope to reach by September this year. If you can help by giving any amount at all, however small, I would be really grateful. Thank you.
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