Robert Downey Jr. delivers a 3D-printed arm to disabled boy


If you have an overwhelming urge to see art imitate life and have been longing for Robert Downey Jr. do something superheroic since his adventures as Iron Man on the big screen, then this video is for you.

Robert Downey Jr. did just that recently when he teamed up with Fulbright scholar and University of Central Florida mechanical engineer Albert Manero, whose project, Limbitless Solutions, built an Iron Man prosthetic for a little boy with a birth defect that left his right arm underdeveloped.

The group gave 7-year-old Alex, who deadpans his way through a scene with Tony Stark, a red bionic arm. Robert Downey Jr. presents Alex with the Iron Man limb in a YouTube short, and Alex’s seems to be functioning better than the real thing.

“I think yours is a little bit more right than mine, because at least your light works,” Tony Stark tells Alex, who is so nonchalant and strident in the face of celebrity, someone has to prompt him with, “Do you know who that is?”

Alex knows who Iron Man is, he’s just too cool for school.

Manero’s collective of volunteers creates cheap, electronic prosthetics for children who need them using technology like 3D printing. They give the limbs away for free. Alex’s cool new arm only required $350 worth of materials.

“My parents always encouraged me to use my education to help others and to dream big dreams,” Manero told Microsoft. “Now I want to inspire others to help engineer hope for the world.”

Prosthetic limbs can cost as much as $40,000 and are often out of reach for those that need them most.

“We were all bound to the belief that no one should profit from a child in need of an arm,” Manero told Microsoft.

Manero also said he and his fellow volunteer engineers were able to come up with the money to build Alex’s arm by pooling their “coffee money,” proving a little good will is really all it takes to make the world a better place, and it probably would be if there were more people like Manero out there.

About Author

Bethania Palma Markus is famous for one thing: having a really, really long name. If you can pronounce it, you are a superior pronouncer of words. She's also a long-time journalist and freelance writer for a variety of news outlets. Follow her on Twitter if you like Twitter @BPalmaMarkus

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