Florida Gov. Rick Scott presented UCF engineering graduate student Albert Manero with the Champion of Service Award in Tallahassee on Tuesday.
The governor and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman made the presentation to Manero, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate, who with fellow students launched the Limbitless Solutions nonprofit organization that provides 3-D-printed bionic arms and hands to children at no cost to their families. A second award was presented to the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary.
“It is an honor to recognize Albert Manero and the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary with the Champion of Service Award,” Scott said. “Their selfless hard work and dedication to helping others has made an impact across our state and we are thankful for their service.”
Limbitless Solutions has received hundreds of requests for help from across the globe and its first international recipient was a 6-year-old boy from Brazil. Manero has been recognized with the Order of Pegasus, one of UCF’s most prestigious awards, and the team’s work has been featured on CNN, the Today Show and Good Morning America, among other news outlets.
Manero last month announced the “12 Arms for Christmas” initiative, which aims to create and deliver arms for 12 children around the country in time for the holiday season. The team also developed an inexpensive device for wheelchairs that allows user to control the chair by subtle facial movements. The team plans to produces the devices and provide them to veterans in need.
“I’m honored and humbled, and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the amazing team that makes Limbitless Solutions possible,” Manero said after the ceremony. “My wife, friends and fellow students who are all an integral part of the team work hard to make a difference in people’s lives. This recognition belongs to all of us.”
Volunteer Florida is the governor’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service in Florida, administering more than $31.7 million in federal, state and local funding to deliver high-impact national service and volunteer programs in Florida. Volunteer Florida promotes and encourages volunteerism to meet critical needs across the state. The organization also serves as Florida’s lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during and after disasters.
The Champion of Service Award was established in 2013 by Volunteer Florida to honor individuals and groups for their outstanding efforts in volunteerism and service. Recipients receive a Volunteer Florida lapel pin, certificate of recognition and a congratulatory letter from Volunteer Florida’s CEO and commission chair.
“I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to present the Champion of Service Award to an innovative individual, Albert Manero, and an entire group of Florida volunteers, the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary,” Spellman said. “From serving children in need of significant medical assistance to serving citizens and visitors traveling on our highways, both Champions of Service are making a difference in the Sunshine State. We are grateful for their efforts.”