Eleven-year-old Star Wars fan, Isabella Tadlock was born with a disability that made it challenging to bend her fingers and pick things up. Then Open Bionics, a UK based company developing low-cost bionic hands, gifted her an R2-D2 bionic arm. Not only did her dreams come true, but she received a video call from Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the movie series.
Isabella was living any Star Wars fan’s dream. After a 30-minute conversation, Hamill also sent her passes to Disney World, and Isabella bragged about her new R2-D2 arm.
“He could not have been more encouraging and kind,” Isabella’s mother, Pamela Tadlock, told CNN.
Isabella was born with what her family describes as a nub on the end of her left arm, and without fingers on her right hand. Following multiple surgeries, she now has three fingers and a thumb on her right hand.
After Isabella saw a video of a little boy with a similar device last summer, her family began fundraising for the bionic arm — receiving almost $14,000 in donations. This would not have been possible without Hamill’s help. The Star Wars star went to Twitter and retweeted the donation link to his 3.6 million followers last November after Isabella’s nanny sent the link to him and boasted about Isabella’s love for the series. And, on February 20, the two met.
“I heard you’re a ‘Star Wars‘ fan. But I have to tell you, I’m a big fan of yours. I’m so proud of you,” Hamill said in the video call. “They call it a hero arm because you really are a hero.”
The R2-D2 Arm Origin
Before the R2-D2 arm was created, Open Bionics had a concept for a “hero arm” to give children with limb differences an empowering arm.
“Welcome to the future, where disabilities are superpowers,” the company says on its website.
These bionic limbs are made to pick up signals from muscles in the residual limb. They also aid in helping perform light to moderate activities. When it came time for Isabella to choose her very own hero arm, she asked for one that looked like R2-D2, Luke Skywalker’s droid in the movies.
While it’s only been two weeks since she received her R2-D2 arm, Isabella says these have been the best days of her life.
“I am so excited. I will be able to ride my bike, swing on the monkey bars, create in the kitchen and be like my friends,” Isabella wrote in an update on her Mightycause account.
Her mother boasted about Isabella’s ability to do little things now and she sees quite the difference in her mood. “It’s helping tremendously with her self-esteem and confidence,” Pamela Tadlock told CNN.
For now, Isabella is looking towards a new dream — to be a bionic arm model.