OGDEN – She knows a new hand is a gift that will change her life, forever.
North Davis Junior High School student, Andi Cottle, was fighting back tears before she even saw her new prosthetic hand. When she first laid eyes on it, she was awestruck.
“Whoa! It’s so cool! It’s awesome!” she said as she took it out of the custom-made box with her name on it. “I’m a cyborg,” she said, while trying it out.
She was born without a complete right hand. Her fingers never formed above the bottom knuckles.
Cottle said, “I’ve never really known what it’s been like to actually have five fingers [on that hand]. I’m just overwhelmed and I’m getting emotional. So, yeah, it’s awesome.”
Her new hand is designed to close every time she bends her wrist, making it much easier to grab things.
“It feels quite amazing, actually, just to flex my wrist and have actual physical things close,” she said.
Plus, since she could get it custom made to look like whatever she wants, why not get it painted to look like a dragon?
“I’m just fascinated by them, I guess,” she said.
The hand is a shiny blue, her favorite color, with gold fingers and a custom paint job to look like dragon scales or feathers. She says her classmates have been asking, “Where’s your new hand?” So, she can’t wait to show it off.
Her parents, Cassie and Jake Cottle were also floored when they looked at it.
Jake said, “I’m super amazed. They did such an awesome job with it.” Cassie added, “The artwork and the attention to detail… you could tell there was love.”
Andi’s quest for a new hand started last winter when she was in class at Starbase Academy at Hill Air Force Base. Her then teacher, Kerry Reed, says the class was learning about 3D printing.
“[Andi asked], ‘Do you guys have a 3D printer?’ I said, ‘We sure do,’ and she said, ‘Do you think you could make me a hand?’ I said, ‘You know what, our 3D printer is broken, right now.’”
So, Reed made a call to the WhiteClouds firm in Ogden, which specializes in 3D printing. They normally do models for medical training and trade shows, so, this is the very first prosthetic they’ve ever made. Team leader Cris Fowers jumped into the project.
Fowers said, “As soon as she told me, I said, ‘Yeah, we can do this.’ So, I immediately started making a list of the people I wanted to get involved.”
He heard about these prosthetics from the non-profit group, Enabling the Future. They have the schematics for these hands online, and people can donate funds to pay for these mechanical hands for kids who need them. Fowers says their group is definitely going to make more.
“The next one will be easier, because we’ve done one,” Fowers said.
In the meantime, Andi will be getting used to her new hand. Mom, Cassie, says having half a hand never slowed Andi down before, and she can’t wait to see what Andi will be able to do with a full one.
“She just teaches me, every day, how to persevere. She’s just so talented and a beautiful soul,” Cottle said.
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