It all started with a video. Self-proclaimed “Marvel nerd,” Gary Zhou, saw Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. comparing bionic arms with Alex Pring, the first recipient of a Limbitless Solutions-built arm, and he was intrigued. “That video just hit me, and I reached out to them,” he says. “I just basically said—‘How can I help’? I drove down to their offices in Orlando and met two of their founders, Dominique Courbin and John—and that’s how it all began.”
An entrepreneur who has launched and sold several successful businesses—his first while still in middle school—Zhou is a creator. And, like his Iron Man hero, Tony Stark, he also considers himself something of a lone wolf, rarely partnering with others. But after almost 20 years of working and creating at a breakneck pace, he is now looking to reach out. “At some point you need to find something that inspires you to give back,” he says.
“At some point you need to find something that inspires you to give back.” – Gary Zhou, entrepreneur
Limbitless Solutions is a UCF-based organization that makes 3D-printed bionic arms for children at no cost to the families. The organization was launched as a self-driven student project in 2014. By building partnerships, it has grown over the years. In 2018, Albert Manero, one of the founders, announced Limbitless would conduct the first clinical trials of 3D-printed arms for children in the nation with its partner Oregon Health & Sciences University. One of the first people to notice the students’ work early on was Downey, who helped the founders deliver one of the first arms to a Florida boy.
The Downey video inspired Zhou to learn more, and he continues to be excited about the work Manero and the Limbitless team are doing. “They think way outside the box and deliver hope,” says Zhou. He hopes to contribute to their efforts by being an advisor and helping them navigate the technology and partnerships landscape to maximize their opportunities. Zhou’s consulting experiences with Google, Tesla and SpaceX, as well as with his own businesses have given him razor-sharp instincts that he says will benefit the Limbitless team.
He has also made a planned gift to Limbitless that he hopes will help them touch more lives. “My ultimate vision is for Limbitless to really change the game,” says Zhou. “I hope they continue to grow to be everything I know they can be.”
Zhou’s planned gift to Limbitless is one of two recent substantial planned gifts to date that will help drive the organization forward.
“Having Gary be a champion of Limbitless provides a great support to navigate technology partnerships and how to scale our impact. “We are so grateful for him to join our ‘Lasting Legacy’ partners that are shaping our organization,” says Manero.
“Albert Manero is like a younger Tony Stark,” Zhou says. Zhou recalls a commercial that aired after Apple founder Steve Jobs’ passing that has stuck with him. “Here’s to the crazy ones. They change things. They push the human race forward. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do.” Zhou believes that the Limbitless team embody this sentiment perfectly.
If you, like Zhou, are inspired to help children through Limbitless Solutions, connect with the team by sending an email to Jacey.Poppell@ucf.edu