Boy with bionic arm surprises UCF student at graduation

Alex Pring surprised Albert Manero during graduation ceremony, UCF says

Photo courtesy of UCF.
Photo courtesy of UCF. (UCF)

ORLANDO, Fla. – An 8-year-old boy who's know for his "bionic arm" made a surprise Saturday during a graduation ceremony at the University of Central Florida.

University officials said Alex Pring became well-known when actor Robert Downey Jr. took on his Tony Stark persona to help Albert Manero and his nonprofit group, Limbitless Solutions, deliver an "Iron Man"-themed bionic arm to him.

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Manero earned his doctorate in mechanical engineering Saturday, along with 29 other Limbitless team members who earned various degrees during commencement ceremonies at UCF, university officials said.

Alex hid back stage until Manero's name was called during the ceremony. University officials said Alex joined Manero's mentor, engineering professor Seetha Raghavan, and Elizabeth Klonoff, UCF vice president for research and dean of the college of graduate studies on stage.

Alex could not contain himself and gave Manero a warm hug and fist bump, university officials said.

"There was no way I was going to miss his graduation," Alex said. "He changed my life."

University officials said Alex, Anni Emmert, 11, and Wyatt Falardeau, 13 -- who also received arms -- and their families traveled from Groveland, St. Augustine and Vero Beach to Orlando to celebrate Manero's accomplishment.

Limbitless Solutions has delivered 20 arms to children around the world and has a long waiting list of families seeking help, university officials said.