This year the second annual Amputee Long Drive Competition (ALDC) was held in Mesquite, Nevada and brought together some of the best minds in the prosthetic and 3D printing industries in order to benefit amputees and their families.
Held in Mesquite, Nevada, organized by Dean Jarvis and sponsored by Stratasys, Ltd., the competition’s stated purpose was fourfold:
1. “Introduce the sport of Long Drive to Wounded Warriors and other Amputees as a new rehabilitation option beyond the track, gym, or swimming pool
2. Create funding to support the mission of the Jordan Thomas Foundation
3. Showcase the latest brain-powered technology from Easton LaChappelle that will improve prosthetics for Wounded Warriors and other Amputees, enable MS sufferers to regain the use of their limbs, and allow paralyzed individuals to walk again.
4. Create a golf-related event to feature great athletes that do not have an opportunity to participate in the Paralympics. Golf will be added to the 2016 Rio Olympics, but it will not be added to the 2016 Rio Paralympics.”
Wounded Warrior Project (.org) is a nonprofit organization whose vision is to “foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history”. It endeavors to raise awareness of and support for returned soldiers and their families through four programs: Mind, Body, Economic and Engagement. It helps veterans find work, serve each other and their communities, rehabilitate physically and mentally.
Jordan Thomas Foundation (.org) sponsors children who have lost one or more limbs and whose families are in need of extra support for prosthetics. They also serve as a caring resource, advocacy and support system for these children and their families. The foundation was started by Jordan Thomas at the age of 16 while recovering from the loss of both legs in a boating accident. They sponsor children in the United States (primarily the southeastern states) but also international children on medical visas to the U.S.
Easton LaChappelle made waves on TEDxYouth@MileHigh last year with his inspiring story and mind-controlled prosthetic arm, which happens to be 3D printed (see video below). He has since gone on to intern for NASA’s “Robonaut” program, present his mind-controlled robot to President Obama and take 2nd place at the 2012 International Science Fair – all before he was legally able to vote or a high school graduate.
Stratasys has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to help create high-performance, lightweight prosthetic limbs. ORNL uses Stratsys’ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) in their custom prosthetic program.
Dean Jarvis, the founder of the ALDC was inspired to create the tournament after golf was added to the 2016 Olympics but not the Paralympics. Jarvis wanted to create an outlet for disabled golfing enthusiasts to participate in and be recognized. “If necessity is the mother of invention than frustration might be the father,” says Jarvis, himself an amputee. “The main goal of the event is to focus on individuals overcoming challenges and to showcase innovators and how they’re helping people. It’s always amazed me to see the determination and skill level at [amputee golf] events. I wanted other people to be able to see what I had the opportunity to see up close.”
The next Amputee Long Drive Competition will be held May 8 and 9, 2014, once again in Mesquite, Nevada.