Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Aaron Westbrook
Profession: Founder & CEO, Form5 Prosthetics
Quote: “Being born with a limb difference has motivated me my whole life to never give up and to have the courage to try. Through Form5 at a young age, I have so much of my life ahead of me. There are so many things I want to accomplish, places I dream of seeing, and experiences I’ve always wanted to take part in. My vision keeps me motivated, and my perseverance allows me to take things to the next level.”
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The story of Form5 Prosthetics begins with the story of Aaron Westbrook, Founder and CEO. Despite being born with only one hand, Aaron didn’t try out his first prosthesis until he was a freshman in high school. Unfortunately, it did not fit well and was expensive – especially considering that he would eventually outgrow it. Disappointed but not defeated, Aaron embarked on a do-it-yourself mission to make his own prosthesis. As luck would have it, the newly established MIT Fabrication Lab was just getting started at New Albany High School, where Aaron attended, which included a 3D printer. Aaron was able to use open-source designs to print his first prosthesis. In early 2015, Aaron left the school’s Fab Lab wearing what would be his third and final 3D-printed prosthetic arm. For Aaron, this was only the beginning. He immediately wanted to make this a viable option for others with limb differences.
Years earlier, he had connected with many of these individuals through his blog, Alive with Five, which documented the struggles and accomplishments he faced living with one hand. Inspired to purchase his own 3D printer, he raised enough money through a Kickstarter campaign to make this a reality and then later launched Form5 Prosthetics as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2017. Now 5 years later, Form5 is expanding its impact through its growth pillars: Community, Research & Development, Education, and Sustainability.
What makes your organization a “Nonprofit to Watch?”
Form5 serves as a conduit between the limb difference community and the innovation happening in the medical device industry. Form5 has created strategic partnerships in Columbus to advance its mission of empowering people to interact successfully with their world and future. Form5’s vision is to create a world where individuals with limb differences have the confidence, resources, and support to accomplish anything they imagine.
As a kid what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
What is the one thing you are most passionate about?
Making sure everyone feels seen and is confident in their own abilities. Inspiring people to reach their full potential.
How do you stay motivated and what drives you to take things to the next level?
Being born with a limb difference has motivated me my whole life to never give up and to have the courage to try. Through Form5 at a young age, I have so much of my life ahead of me. There are so many things I want to accomplish, places I dream of seeing, and experiences I’ve always wanted to take part in. My vision keeps me motivated, and my perseverance allows me to take things to the next level.
What might others be surprised to know about you?
I am an old soul. I am an avid music collector of 50/60s music. I recently discovered that I am an ambivert, meaning I have both extroverted and introverted features.
How can others in the Columbus community get involved with your organization
Form5 prides itself on being diverse and collaborative. As an organization, we believe we are reinventing prosthetics. To achieve that goal, we engage professionals on our team who are passionate about their careers and how they can apply their skills to make a difference. Form5 has several committees that enable the organization to actualize its mission and vision. Form5’s Committees are Development, R&D, and Education. We encourage anyone interested in volunteering to contact email@example.com.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The pulse of Columbus are the emerging leaders who cultivate community and aim to make a difference.
Since 2014, The Columbus Foundation’s 5 Nonprofits to Watch platform has honored remarkable nonprofit organizations that are working to strengthen and improve our community. Meet all of the Nonprofits to Watch in 2023 »