Alvin Garcia Flores, a fourth grader at Gateway Elementary School in South Omaha, had long accepted that his right arm ends at his elbow. But according to his mother—and anyone with a heart—life can be tough for him: many see him as a stereotype.
You may remember some time ago that the company Limbitless Solutions, who gives kids bionic arms for free, bestowed an Iron Man styled bionic arm to a seven-year-old boy. Terry Burton, Gateway Elementary’s principal, saw the video and his thoughts turned to Alvin. He showed Alvin the video, and he was so excited by it that Burton wrote to Limbitless—and they agreed to build it for Alvin!
But what really makes the story is that Darth Vader, the bionic Sith lord himself, presented Alvin the arm.
Once the arm came in, members of the 501st Legion’s Central Garrison (which serves Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota) dressed up as Star Wars villains and presented Alvin the arm in front of 130 of his classmates. Called the “Commander Arm,” it’s white with gold trim, and modeled after a stormtrooper’s arm.
The 501st Legion went all-out for Alvin’s big ceremony—Darth Vader was accompanied by an imperial officer, two stormtroopers, and a droid.
The arm should last about a year (more aesthetic than functional) and is built with an industrial 3D printer. Muscular electric currents control the bionic arm’s hand, so when the bicep is flexed, the hand grips.
Limbitless’s founder Albert Manero claims inspiration for Limbitless came from watching Star Wars as a child, in the memorable scene where Luke receives a prosthetic arm after losing it in the lightsaber duel against Darth Vader. “It certainly inspired our work and humanitarian efforts,” he said in a Livewell Nebraska article.