Hi, I’m Trace! I’m a 27-year-old gamer, 3D modeler, and 3D printing enthusiast. I want to introduce you to Limb Loss & Limb Difference Awareness Month this April, my favorite time of year! I was born without a right hand, and didn’t meet another amputee or limb-different person until I was 20 years old. My involvement in the limb-different and disability communities has progressed quite a bit since then, so I thought I’d share my experience as a congenital amputee, children’s author, disability advocate, and Hero Arm user.
Growing up, I was not the biggest fan of my limb difference. I was self-conscious, constantly worried about being judged, and my arm spent an inordinate amount of time hidden in my pocket. In retrospect, my view of my limb difference held me back from many things throughout my childhood. Luckily, that is no longer the case!
In my late teens, I came to the realization that my view of myself was impacting others’ view of me, and that perhaps I could change that. If I made a conscious effort to be outgoing, to embrace my limb difference and insert myself into conversations with a one-hand pun, that’s how people would see me. When it came to being confident, I knew I had to “fake it ‘til you make it” as it were. My mindset changed seemingly overnight, and “faking it” soon evolved into a new confidence and outgoing personality.
I quickly found myself thrown into the world of disability advocacy. I wrote a children’s book, “Uniquely Me”, followed by a sequel titled “Uniquely Brave”, both meant to help kids with disabilities understand, accept, and love their unique differences. I became an ambassador for the Lucky Fin Project, an organization dedicated to helping kids and adults with limb differences, and I made dozens of new friends within the limb-different community.
For the last few years, almost everything I’ve enjoyed doing and every positive experience in my life has revolved around my new view that my limb difference is my favorite thing about myself.
In November of 2022, that list changed to include my full-time job, as I joined the Open Bionics team as Community Manager! I have always wanted to have a career within the O&P industry, particularly with our awesome community, and I really love how my Hero Arm enables me to be creative with my prosthesis, so this was a big win!
In addition to being the goofy guy who runs our social media, I get to work with R&D on new designs, features, test and design new covers and be involved in all making the Hero Arm the best it can be for our awesome community.
I’ve worn a Hero Arm for about 4 months now, and absolutely love it. If it wasn’t clear from the last few paragraphs, I have thoroughly embraced my limb difference. With that has come a desire to educate others about our technology, and show how much it helps me.
Not only is the Hero Arm functional, lightweight, and durable, but it’s customizable. I can’t begin to express the enjoyment I get from being able to accessorize my arm with different magnetic covers. Most people decide on which pair of shoes or piece of jewelry to wear each day, but I get to express myself with custom arm covers! That freedom is often overlooked, but for myself and many other Hero Arm users, it’s game-changing.
So why is Limb Loss & Limb Difference Awareness Month my favorite time of year? Many people with limb differences struggle with the same challenges I faced before embracing my own. This month allows them to feel seen. To read stories shared by those who have embraced their differences, in the hope that they can do the same. So to those worried about what other people might think, or are hiding their arm in their pocket: YOU’VE GOT THIS!