When my son Cam was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS), I struggled a lot with things like what caused this condition, why this happened to him, how we would get through this, could we handle it, what did I do wrong, if he would grow up hating me, and a whole flood of other emotions.
I learned pretty quickly that I needed to find a way to channel all of the things I had/have no control over into something I did/do have control over. That's where Cam's facebook page came in. It helped ME to help others going through these emotions. It helped me knowing that by spreading awareness I was giving another parent hope and even possibly saving their baby's life.
Fast forward a little...
Chris Craft and I met through a Facebook friend of ours. Someone who I truly admire as a mother, artist and founder of one of mine, Cam's and Chris' favorite nonprofits called E-Nable, Mrs Jen Owen. At the time Chris was a STEM teacher at a South Carolina middle aged school and founder of an initiative called Hand Challenge. Thanks to a couple sweet girls (the M&M girls as Cam still lovingly calls them!) from his classroom, Cam got his first 3D printed E-nable hand!
Chris was working to make a difference rallying classrooms around the world to build hands for others in need and I was working to raise awareness about Amniotic Band Syndrome. I too wanted to make hands and who better to teach me the ways than the guy who helped Cam get his first hand, right?! I really enjoyed learning and was surprised at how much Cam loved it as well! Cam quickly caught on and with only a few months worth of practice, being only four years old, and despite his limb differences, was culling, scaling, printing and building 3D printed
hands for himself and then other kids with hand differences similar to his own.
While learning how to make the hands, I also learned that Chris' mom has a limb difference due to Amniotic Band Syndrome. Chris and I both had/have been impacted by having someone very close to us have this sporadic condition. We learned that we worked well as a team and both wanted to raise more awareness. We teamed up to create a website to educate the world about Amniotic Band Syndrome. The goal of the ABSAA is to raise awareness about ABS, celebrate those impacted by ABS, and to empower those dealing with ABS by providing help and hope. We worked like crazy. Somewhere in the process, we realized we also wanted to celebrate the people helping to make a difference in the lives of those with limb differences.
Ive always been told/read/overheard things like "you should always leave this world better than you found it", "do what makes you happy", "never be held back by your fear of failure" and all of these things really stood out in my mind while working through all of the trials, errors, fears, long hours, research, etc to make this happen.
We wanted to make something much bigger than either of us... and here we are now launching Different Heroes, a new and exciting non profit dedicated to raising awareness about Amniotic Band Syndrome but just as importantly, dedicated to celebrating limb differences and those making a difference in the life of someone different. We want to help. We want to educate. We want to praise those doing GOOD things for these kids and families.
So, maybe things would have played out similarly anyway had Cam never been born with ABS? Maybe. But, I honestly do believe that this was in every way meant to be.