How an Uber Driver Found New Hands for His Daughter

A chance meeting and a friendly conversation changed this girl's life for ever.

Oct 20, 2018
Special Collections: THE ABILITY IN DISABILITY

Sometimes you meet people in the most unexpected places who can change your life. When Michael Skinner, a student at the University of Notre Dame, called for an Uber after a formal event during Junior Parents Weekend, he had no idea that the driver would leave a lasting impact on him. As the engineering major made friendly conversation with his driver, Doug Anderson, the New Jersey native asked him about his family.

That’s when Anderson began telling Skinner about his 11-year-old daughter Tori who he and his wife adopted from China and brought to Indiana when she was five. Tori was born with a condition that caused her to have only half a palm and one finger on her hands. Anderson explained to his empathetic passenger that her hands made his daughter feel embarrassed and unhappy looking so different from her peers.

Wanting to help their child, he and his wife spoke to doctors from several hospitals about getting their daughter prosthetics--only to hear that a child quickly outgrows the artificial limbs, making them even more expensive for the parents.

With the family welcoming two other children with special needs, the Andersons were extra careful to watch their spending. The circumstances led Doug--who’s 58--to become an Uber driver to make some extra money that also allowed him to interact with all kinds of people. People like Skinner, who luckily enough, was able to help his family.

If there is such a thing as destiny, the pair’s meeting was a welcome chance encounter. Skinner works at e-Nable, an informal student engineering club that 3D-prints robotic hands and they needed a child to test their creation after enduring an ongoing lag in their projects. Tori was the perfect candidate.

After several back-and-forth meetings collaborating on fit and design, Tori can write, throw a baseball, and perform many other acts once deemed impossible thanks to her new hand. Although Anderson never took the driving job expecting an outcome as bright as this, the spiritual father feels thankful fate stepped in. “I think that God absolutely had his hand in this,” he told the university.

Skinner also feels the timing was serendipitous. Not realizing the event was formal, his mother chastised him for failing to adhere to the dress code and the family left early. “Things happen for a reason, I guess,” he said. “All because I didn’t wear a tie.”

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REBECCA WOJNO, CONTRIBUTOR
Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.

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