Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.” – Stan Lee
I don’t know about you, but as a child, I always dreamed of being a superhero. I wanted that thrill of the moment when I would be going about my everyday life and suddenly hear a call for help from across the city and be able to leap across tall buildings and swoop down and render assistance to whoever was in need of whatever superpowers I might have residing within me.
I remember playing superheroes with my cousins in my grandparent’s backyard, running around with our terry cloth towels tied around our necks as capes after we spent hours chasing each other through the sprinklers in the summer and forming our own little “Fantastic 10” to fight whatever bad guys were lurking in Grandma’s rose bushes.
As I got older, I never lost that feeling of wishing I had some kind of insanely huge superpower inside of me that would allow me to help people in need. I thought I had to do something “big” to make a difference, like stopping an outbreak of Ebola or disarming a bomb strapped to a kitten, strapped to a rocket ship just as it was about to launch and wipe out half of the world.
I thought you had to get bitten by a radioactive spider or fall into a vat of nuclear waste goo to obtain this kind of superpower…I had no idea that sometimes it is the little things you do that can make the biggest impact on the world and in ways you never imagined possible.
I had no idea that my superpower was being a “Kindhearted storytelling cosplay nerd” and that all I had to do was be myself, share my gifts, my time, my passions, my talents and go find others who wanted to do the same! I had no idea that what seemed like such “Simple powers” would help create a global movement of thousands of people across the planet who wanted to join me in giving the world a helping hand.
Over the past 5 years, our e-NABLE Community has grown from one man helping a stranger create a single replacement finger to those two men putting on their superhero capes and joining forces to help create a free 3D printed hand for a single child in need… to a global movement of Real Life Superheroes from all walks of life, with all kinds of superpowers of their own, that have made and delivered more than 6000 free 3D printed hands and arms to people in over 100 countries.
There have been thousands of 3D printed superhero themed arms and hands that have been gifted to children and adults who are missing their upper limbs over the years thanks to our incredible e-NABLE Volunteer network. Once they strap these colorfully themed devices to their bodies, they oftentimes feel more empowered and seem to have more confidence as they navigate the world… but sometimes do not realize that they had that power inside of them all along.
They don’t need a 3D printed device to be a superhero.
They have been “Supers” all along.
Their superpowers are resilience, determination, grit, vision, strength, perseverance, tenacity and chutzpah.
While it is always a treasure to see the photos of the children who have received their 3D printed superhero hands and watch videos of them running around the yard pretending to save the world from whatever alien forces are trying to destroy all of humanity, we often overlook the real superheroes in these stories…our volunteers.
All of them use whatever superpowers they have already inside of themselves and without hesitation, jump in and volunteer to help in any way they can – to bring joy to someone else in need.
They do this with no expectation of a reward.
They do this because it is right and beautiful and it needs to be done.
Some of our superheroes use their knowledge of 3D printing technology, some are designers, some are motivational speakers, some are teachers and writers and event planners and social media experts. Some of our volunteers use their superpowers to make tutorial videos that help others learn how to make e-NABLE hands, some of them possess the power to create a curriculum for other teachers who want to bring e-NABLE into their classrooms as STEM-based learning projects and some of our volunteers are using their abilities to round up funding to provide materials and machines to clinics and chapters in need who are unable to do so on their own.
Today, the day the world says goodbye to Stan Lee, creator, and writer of so many amazing Marvel Superhero stories, and someone that gave so many of us the dream of someday being a hero ourselves – I hope that you think about the thousands of real-life superheroes that walk amongst you every day.
You don’t have to wear a cape, a cling-tight onesie or a mask to be a Superhero.
You just have to be yourself, doing good in the world, with whatever superpower you have to share.
Is your superpower 3D printing related?
Is your superpower building or designing things?
Do you have the power of kindness and a passion for making children smile?
Do you want to be a part of our story?
Is your superpower the ability to donate to causes that are making a difference in the world? Do you want to help support us while we roam the earth, listening for the calls for help from those who want nothing more than to have their own superhero arm or hand to realize their full potential?
Together, we can change the world.
Together, we can e-NABLE The Future.