Early in 2018, we first learned the inspiring story of 5-year-old Cameron Haight, who was born with several webbed, deformed fingers and toes due to Amniotic Band Syndrome, or ABS. ABS caused parts of Cam’s finger bones to fuse, in addition to skin webbing, indentations on one wrist and fingers, and even amputations.
His first 3D printed prosthetic hand broke, so he and his mother, Sarah, began 3D printing parts to make him a new prosthetic hand two years ago, so that Cam would be able to ride a bike. But then, they kept going, and started to create 3D printed prosthetic e-NABLE hands, using their Robo R1+ 3D printer, for other children who needed them.
Cam quickly became skilled at designing 3D printable prosthetic tools and hands for kids in need of help with their fine motor skills, such as grasping pencils and cell phones. He named his first design the Invention Tool 5000 “because it helps kids without hands do things easier.”
“Cam designed this little device that helps hold the writing instrument in a proper position in the 3D printed hand. He can still close the hand around the pencil for extra control, allowing him to write as if he had all of his fingers,” Sarah said back in January. “I can sit for hours trying to come up with an idea and draw a blank, but when I ask Cam, he is just able to come up with ideas right away – I guess that’s where he has an advantage over me. He’s living with a limb difference and using the hand almost daily, so he knows what things will be helpful.”
Cam and his parents began a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, called Different Heroes, that works to raise awareness and acceptance of limb differences, like the one Cam has. It is also the parent organization for Hand Challenge, the Amniotic Band Syndrome Awareness Association, and possibly others in the future.
“We achieve our vision through a three-tiered approach of providing assistive devices, financial support for adoptions, and by sponsoring events that bring the limb-different community together,” the Different Heroes website states.
The nonprofit helps send limb-different kids to special camps, supports families looking to adopt children with limb differences, and of course, creates and provides hundreds of 3D printed prosthetics to children around the world.
“Cam has been helping me since he was three years old, and he tells everybody now that he wants to be a prosthetic doctor when he grows up so he can keep making free prosthetic devices for other kids,” Sarah said in a new video recently published by The Riot Report.
In addition to creating 3D printed prosthetic devices for other kids, Cam and his family are also big fans of the Carolina Panthers football team.
Not long ago, Cam outgrew his 3D printed prosthetic hand, which was Panthers-themed, and while going over plans for his next hand, told his mother that he wanted his ‘twin’ – Heisman Trophy winner and Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton – “to have a hand just like his.”
The Haight family recently attended the Panthers training camp, in hopes that they could catch Newton’s attention on the field.
“After camp practice was over, Cam got to go out on the field and meet his hero,” Sarah said. “It was absolutely amazing. The smile on his face is going to carry me for a very long time, and I know it’s going to carry Cam for probably the rest of his life.”
In addition to meeting his idol, Cam was able to gift him with an adult-sized version of his own 3D printed Panthers prosthetic hand, which Newton promptly put on and used to fist bump young Cam. While Sarah said that the family members are all definitely Panthers fans for life, this event was bigger than Cam getting to hang out with his hero.
“The best thing about all of this is that we’re spreading awareness,” Sarah said. “People that are born with limb differences are amazing people, and they overcome, and they can do anything.”
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