Saturday was a big day for UCF football and for four children who received 3D-printed electromyographic bionic arms from UCF’s Limbitless Solutions.
The nonprofit started by UCF students has given out about 20 bionic arms to children born without limbs and invited four of them to help cut the ribbon at their new headquarters near the CFE Arena on campus.
Julianna Linton, 11, of Houston, Texas, Annika “Anni” Emmert, 12, of St. Augustine, Fla., Wyatt Falardeau, 14, of Vero Beach, and Alex Pring, 9, of Groveland, Fla. Joined the Limbitless founders, current and former volunteers, friends and university supporters for the soft opening.
But the ribbon-cutting was just the first highlight of the day. The two girls and two boys also joined the March to Victory alongside UCF cheerleaders and the UCF Marching Knights band as they made their way into Spectrum Stadium for the football game against Memphis on Saturday, Sept. 30.
The children then joined team captains midfield where Julianna tossed the coin to start the game. UCF would go on to win 40-13, bringing the team’s record to 3-0. They are now ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2013.
The children joined the cheerleaders for various routines, which at one point included hoisting Anni into the air.
“UCF and Limbitless Solutions are our family,” said Anni’s mother, Karon Bryson, who wore a Knights T-shirt and brought several family members to the opening and game.
Cynthia Carr Falardeau was thrilled to be part of the festivities along with her husband. She said Limbitless has made a huge impact in Wyatt’s life.
The children beamed with joy as their images were broadcast on the stadium’s video board during the coin toss.
The new Limbitless space will be used to work on hardware and the custom expression for the designs. It will also be the site for families to learn more about the program. The team hopes the space to be fully functional by early 2018.
“It’s so cool,” Alex said during the open house while he posed in front of a wall with larger-than-life photos of the children. “That’s me and that’s my Iron Man arm.”
Julianna and Anni, dressed in mini-versions of the UCF Cheerleader’s official outfits, posed with family and student volunteers while they waited for ice cream donated by Toppers.
“When we help a child, they become part of our family,” said UCF alumnus Albert Manero, one of the founders of the organization. “That’s why we wanted them here for our soft opening. And they are all such big football fans, we thought this would be an amazing experience for them.”