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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

Rotary arms project makes big impact

The Claremont Sunrise Rotary is setting a new standard for lending a helping hand—literally. They accomplished this through ingenuity, planning, financial support and a lot of hard work.

The final result of their project included delivery of 1000 prosthetic arms to people in developing countries in need of a l imb because of birth defects, serious accidents, violence and land mines.

Link to YouTube video showing how the arm works

Technically an elbow prosthetic with a hand, the device is attached at the shoulder and can be moved around in three distinct, different ways.

The Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Organization was started after Ernie Meadows 18-year-old daughter Ellen died in an automobile accident. Mr. Meadows, an industrial designer by trade, wanted to create a legacy in Ellen’s memory and got the idea to build a low-cost, light, functional prosthetic hand. He gave the hand to his Rotarian friends with the stipulation that it could not be sold for profit and must be distributed for free.

That was back in 2006, and with the design help from technical advisor Maurice LeBlanc from Claremont, the more elaborate LN-4 prosthetic arm became a reality.

It all started when Mr. LeBlanc and Mr. Meadows built a prototype, which enabled the assembly of 100 LN-4 arms. Those first units sent off to India, Cambodia and Nicaragua were so popular, Rotarians from all over the country joined the party, giving financial and distribution support to the project, including Claremont’s Sunrise Rotary.

But Sunrise Rotary did a lot more than just donate money. The group wanted to actually build the device, which called for a huge amount of planning, with many moving parts. Top on the list was the work of Ken Rowland, who spent hours fabricating the boxes full of parts to assemble.

Cindy Rainey had to make sure an army of volunteers could commit to a night of work. On building nights, a unique makeshift assembly line using round tables was developed to construct and pack.

On Wednesday, September 13 all the prep work came together as a group of 60 people, including Sunrise Rotary, spent an evening at the St. Ambrose Episcopal Church assembling thousands of prosthetic arm pieces. After assembly, each arm was placed in a clear bag that included spare parts and a personal note of encouragement from the volunteer.

Before the night was over, 400 prosthetic arms were ready for delivery to the Prosthetic Hand Foundation, the first step in a journey to those in need.

With a grand total of 1000—600 were assembled starting in May—Sunrise Rotary became a major contributor to an arms project that once was just an idea of a grieving father who had lost his daughter.

All of the financial support for the project was generated from the Sunrise Rotary’s annual Turkey Trot, which they will host for the 10th time this Thanksgiving.

—Peter Weinberger

pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

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