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Rochelle Students, Teacher Honored At Illinois State Fair

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State of Illinois
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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner presents a proclamation Tuesday naming Rochelle Middle School teacher Vic Worthington and his students "Illinoisans of the Day" at the Illinois State Fair Ag Day.

Rochelle Middle School teacher Vic Worthington and his students were named “Illinoisans of the Day” Tuesday for helping an injured farmer by creating a prosthetic hand.

The announcement was made on Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair by Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois Director of Agriculture Raymond Poe.

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Worthington and his students designed and engineered a prosthetic arm for local farmer Jake Hubbard, who lost his left arm after a 2013 accident. Hubbard had slipped in the mud while moving a heavy wheel, leaving him pinned beneath its weight for an entire night. Another farmer found him the next day, but his arm could not be saved.

Worthington, who knows Hubbard through church, asked the farmer and father of two young children if his students could try to build him a new, affordable prosthetic arm. Hubbard has a makeshift prosthetic hand he uses for farm work, but he does not wear it in public and describes it as more of a “tool” in his toolbox.

Worthington and his students got to work on the project, aided by several community members, local businesses and an Ohio engineer who worked to design and create the prosthetic hand. The class used a 3-D printer which Rochelle Middle School purchased for the technology lab through a grant.

Plastic filament, fasteners and cabling used in the project were donated by community volunteers. The team estimates that everyone involved invested approximately 200 hours in the project.

“Jake’s traditional prosthetic costs around $10,000 to replace,” Worthington said. “The one our kids put together used about $100 in materials, so it was a pretty nice bargain for him.”

The students presented Hubbard his new prosthetic in May. Hubbard tried out his new arm with his two young children seated in his lap. 

“I want to thank Mr. Worthington and his class for giving me an opportunity to have a second prosthetic,” Hubbard said. “By doing this you have allowed me to spend more quality time with my children and family! The service Mr. Worthington is providing is priceless. His willingness to teach the class has helped turn these kids on, and show them that they truly can do anything if they put their minds to it.”

“We are honoring real-life heroes today,” said Gov. Rauner. “To see such selflessness, especially on the part of young people, is truly inspiring.”

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