High school students build prosthetic arm for Grace, a 3rd grader

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -  The use of our hands is something that most of us take for granted. A local third grader, born without most of her right arm, has an arm thanks to students in Penn High School's Engineering Department. The students also created a documentary about it.

The engineering students at Penn High School met Grace Hildreth in January. She was born without most of her right arm.

After meeting Grace, the students knew immediately they wanted to help her.

The students worked long hours to create a 3-D printed prosthetic arm for Grace.

“We've had a couple kids, including me, staying after every night until five, coming in last weekend and things like that,” said student Nathan Petrie.

Jim Langfeldt, the engineering teacher, says this was the first time they've ever tried anything like this.

“It has been a steep learning curve,” said Langfeldt.

On May 27, engineering students, journalism students, faculty members and parents gathered in the Penn auditorium to meet Grace and see the documentary “Hand of Grace.”

Grace arrived in a limo and was cheered as she emerged.

After the documentary was shown, Grace used her new hand for the first time.

Attendees clapped, cheered and cried.

“This is just a wonderful celebration,” said Olivia Hildreth, Grace's mom.

Olivia says this whole process has been incredible.

“It has just been really heartwarming, watching all the interactions, watching Grace interact with the children, having the opportunity to meet all new kinds of people,” said Olivia.

Grace, a spirited third grader, loved being in the spotlight.

“My favorite part was riding in the limo I have to say,” said Grace.

“Watching her, that's just fun! That's just exciting,” said Olivia.

Olivia says it is a moment that was hard to imagine when she learned about Grace's arm.

“When she was about 8 weeks old inside, there was a blood vessel that was blocked and that's what happened,” said Olivia.

The engineering team says Grace went home with two different prosthetic arms and they're already printing the materials for a third.

Share this article: