From email to super hero is, as it turns out, a surprisingly short journey.

Marvel Universe LIVE! has been entertaining the crowds across the country as the exciting super hero-themed stage extravaganza tours, but perhaps no community has felt the impact quite so much as Dallas, Texas did recently. Erin Burgy from Marvel Universe LIVE! wrote an email to e-NABLE‘s Jen Owen in October, and it all took off from there.helpinghands-1024x341

As Burgy said:

“The synergy between Marvel Universe LIVE! and the work of e-NABLE was obvious to me the second I read about e-NABLE and began following their amazing work online. After speaking with Jen, I was excited to find that Jon Schull would be in Houston weeks later and I immediately made plans to meet him. Jon’s vision, passion and desire to reach families left me speechless — which is quite an accomplishment for those that know me. My wheels were turning and my heart knew that we at Marvel Universe LIVE! had found the perfect non-profit partner.”

The partnership does seem to be perfect, and so it wasn’t much longer before five cast members from Marvel Universe LIVE! joined up with four members from e-NABLE to bring six kids to super hero status. These kids — thorjackson-684x1024Abby, Hudson, Jackson, Jax, Kinley, and Miah — showed the teams working with them that not only are they super heroes now, but they really have been for quite a while.

Jen Owen, writing in e-NABLE’s blog recounting the event, was reminded that these kids “were real life Super Heroes before they ever strapped their ‘upgrade’ to their arms.” While the kids came out with new prosthetics, all the adults there — super hero cast members, e-NABLE volunteers, staff from Feld Entertainment, and the kids’ families — found this to be a “humbling” and “life-altering” day that may have ‘upgraded’ the kids’ hands, but also sent a super jolt through their own hearts.

The event started out with Marvel cast members, kids’ family members, and volunteers gathering to learn how to assemble the hands. Some of the pieces, including Hudson’s new super hero hand, were 3D printed by high school students from Bellingham High School in Washington State. Another hand, for Kinley, was e-NABLE’s Raptor Wing style that is controlled from the elbow, intended for children without a wrist.

Cast members from the Marvel show included Chelsea (“Storm”), Romeo (“Nick Fury”), Chailee (“Black Widow”), Antonia (“Iron Man”), and Vincent (“The Green Goblin”) — four heroes and a villain, and all totally super. This experience gave these actors, who regularly portray characters with extraordinary abilities, the opportunity to really be something ‘super’, directly in the lives of the kids who idolize them. While it was certainly an exciting day for the kids (how many children can say they have a Captain America hand?), these actors all ended up reflecting on how very touched they were from the experience.

“It’s amazing to be a part of history,” said Romeo. “Not only do I feel privileged to help the kids build their own one of a kind hand, but it’s an honor to see technology at its best!”

enablers-1024x341It clearly wasn’t just technology at its best that day, as the community truly rallied together to celebrate these kids and give them a (literal) hand.

“e-NABLE allowed Super Heroes to make kids’ dreams come true — and help them realize they are the real heroes,” Chailee wrote.

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Printing the new palm piece. Photo courtesy Ryan Lindee, PolyPrinter

Some of the other heroes of the day were makers from PolyPrinter. Ryan and Frank, who attended the event for PolyPrinter and are active members of the Dallas Makerspace, were there to the rescue when a piece for Miah’s 3D printed hand needed to be replaced — fortunately, the duo had brought three 3D printers from the makerspace and were able to print a new palm piece on the spot.

Other reactions from participating characters included Chelsea, who noted that her “experience was amazing” and that “getting to be a part of something bigger than yourself is such a humbling experience, especially when you get to work with kids.” Antonio was likewise brightened, writing that the experience “kind of made me miss being a kid.”

Perhaps the most touching recap of the experience, though, came from the day’s super villain, Vincent. This Green Goblin was already familiar with 3D printing, having researched them since they started making headlines, and has even played tabletop games using 3D printed dice.

“So to see one of these machines in action,” he wrote, “and to see a few together with one common goal really set the bar of what the future has in store of what can become so readily available to the public and offer such amazing and revolutionary services such as the one that was being provided all day.”

goblin1-1024x340While he was wowed by the technology, Vincent was also acutely aware that the kids honed in on him as the only super villain in attendance. He was a target! And he loved it. Vincent wrote:

“They of course caught word that I was the only Super Villain from the show there that day, and proceeded to want to play endless games of throwing fake punches and kicks at me as if they were preparing for their new Super Hero powers that would be bestowed upon them from their ‘upgraded hands… As each one equipped themselves with their new hands they immediately returned to their grand imaginary battles, only this time, feeling quite a bit more ‘super.’ They began using ‘special moves’ like shooting laser beams, or pretending that their hand was strong enough to punch holes in the building.”

What Vincent wasn’t necessarily expecting, though, was the farewell he received. He wasn’t just the bad guy — the kids knew that was for play, and that the real Vincent was the nice man who had helped them all day, and he got hugs all around from the family he worked with. He wasn’t only there to build a 3D printed object, but to build memories and show support to kids who could use a little help feeling ‘super.’fullgroup-1024x461

When the kids’ hands were all assembled, they themselves all assembled, Avengers style. Posing with their new hands — which they very quickly had learned to operate — and cast members from Marvel Universe LIVE! the kids were proud to show off their best super poses. Later, they were invited to a performance of the full show, where with some audience participation they “helped save the world” from all those super villains out there.

Burgy, from Marvel Universe LIVE!, summed it up beautifully:

“We are all Super Heroes. We all have gifts to share. Children received mechanical hands and seemingly gained instant confidence and Super Hero status. Families felt support and empowerment helping to assemble a device for their child. Marvel Universe LIVE! performers felt like the Super Heroes they play in the show by fully understanding how volunteerism directly impacts others and becoming a part of an amazing story. For me, it was all beautiful and it verified what I already know to be true — we live in a world filled with unimaginable technology and everyday people that can be exponentially powerful when we work together to help one another.”

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3D printed super hero hands. Photo courtesy Ryan Lindee, PolyPrinter

We’ve already seen some really impressive efforts from e-NABLE, but it’s easy to see that this particular day of volunteer work was especially super. Let us know what you think about these real-life super heroes in the Marvel Universe LIVE! Brings Super Hands to Kids forum thread over at 3DPB.com. Check out a video of the event, as well as some more photos, below.

[Source: e-NABLE]

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Photo courtesy Ryan Lindee, PolyPrinter

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Photo courtesy Ryan Lindee, PolyPrinter

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Photo courtesy Ryan Lindee, PolyPrinter

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