Reaching out: Robotic arm service helps people with severe mobility issues
Published Monday, March 16, 2015 11:04PM EDT
Samuel Fleurent Beauchemin’s mission is to change lives for the better, and it’s all in memory of his hero.
The Quebec University student is the founder of Bridge to Autonomy, a foundation that raises money for robotic arms for people living with severe mobility limitations.
The origins of the foundation are intensely personal for Beauchemin, who at age eight had already experienced the devastating loss of his father to cancer.
The first person to receive a robotic arm was Beauchemin’s older brother, Guillaume, who was living a normal childhood until he was six years old. Guillaume began falling, had difficulty running -- the first symptoms of a rare form of muscular dystrophy.
Guillaume became a prisoner in his own body: he lost the ability to walk and eventually, he could no longer use his arms.
“The life of my brother was so hard and I thought that my life is too easy,” Beauchemin said in an interview with CTV News.
Intent on helping his brother, Beauchemin set up Bridge to Autonomy, and fundraised to buy Guillaume a $40,000 robotic arm.
The arm would allow Guillaume to pick up objects, and get himself food independently.
It took eight months to raise the money. Tragically, two short weeks after receiving the robotic arm, Guillaume contracted an infection and passed away.
His death left Beauchemin to fulfill a mission.
“It’s very important to know that each minute of the lives of people we help, is changed,” Beauchemin said.
The robotic arm first used by his brother has now been gifted to 13-year-old Alexandre Lemaire. It enables the teen to be proud of his abilities, says his mother.
As for Beauchemin, he is now studying at the University of Montreal, where he is learning how to run the foundation as efficiently as possible -- always with the memory of his brother in mind.
“He’s my hero,” said Beauchemin. “He’s my hero, for sure.”
With a report by CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin