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BYU student helps young local violinist born with one hand achieve her dreams

Posted at 10:12 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 11:51:56-04

PROVO, Utah — A young Provo violinist, born with only one arm, can now continue to perfect her talents thanks to a device designed by a Brigham Young University engineering student.

Ten-year-old Adia Cardona is many things: a pianist, a violinist, a student, and more. But there is one thing she is not: a quitter.

"I don't think I will forget her anytime soon," said Joshua Vanderpool, president of the 2ft Prosthetics Club and student at BYU. "Adia, from the moment I met her, I could tell she was very determined."

Cardona was born missing the bottom half of her right arm, a challenge that has never stopped her from wanting to play violin.

"She told me that the two things that were important to her," said Cardona's violin teacher Madilyn Olsen in a video produced by BYU (embedded below). "Being able to play the violin and to ride her bike."

"She was actually playing just with one arm," Vanderpool added. "She'd have her instructor do the strings, or she would do the bow and she would switch back and forth."

Doctors at Shriner's Hospital in Salt Lake City fitted her with a prosthetic to help her play violin on her own, but there was still a problem.

"She couldn't get enough pressure as she wanted, or [the bow] would slide down the violin," Vanderpool said.

"Sometimes it was a little bit hard," Cardona said in the video.

Being the determined 10-year-old she is, Cardona came up with a solution on her own. She drew up a draft, and with the help of Olsen, she contacted Vanderpool.

"I wasn't fixing anything wrong, per se," he added. "I was enabling Adia to do what she wanted."

Vanderpool used a 3D printer and a craft dowel from Walmart to construct a device — that looks a lot like an antenna attached to her violin — all for under $10.

"When we put it on and practiced today and yesterday, I could put it on. I just thought, 'Wow this is easy,'" Cardona said in the video.

Despite the recognition for the creation of the device, Vanderpool said the real hero of this story is Cardona.

"She still has struggles," he said. "And she is still working hard despite them, and I think there is definitely value in that message as well."