One-year-old Joseph Tidd and Orlando Pride player Carson Pickett have a lot in common: They both love soccer. They’re both athletic. And they both have partially formed left arms, which they tapped together last month in a photo that’s flying across the internet.
The arm bump happened when Pickett, 25, jogged over to Joseph’s family after hearing them cheer at a home game. She repeatedly tapped her arm against his as he shrieked with glee, said Joseph’s mother, Colleen Tidd, who scrambled to take pictures as her husband held Joseph, decked out in a purple Pride T-shirt.
“In those situations, I want to be in the moment,” Tidd said in an interview Tuesday about the photo that’s gotten a lot of attention. “But then I realized, ‘Well, this is adorable.’”
Joseph spent the whole car ride home from the stadium looking at his arm and giggling, Tidd said, because he knew he had a friend.
About 2,250 babies with limb defects are born in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with arms or legs that failed to form completely during pregnancy may need help with daily tasks and sometimes feel self-conscious about their appearance.
Joseph, however, is a bundle of confidence — a fact that Tidd attributes to his meeting other people with the same limb difference. In addition to Pickett, Joseph has met Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin and Amy Alamillo Siesel, a member of Lucky Fin Project, a nonprofit that celebrates people with limb differences.
Tidd, 28, said she found out when she was pregnant with Joseph that he would be born without one of his hands. She cried at first, but she said Lucky Fin helped her believe her son would be fine.
At 22 months old, Tidd said, Joseph is much more than fine. He used to be confused when kids would grab his arm, she said, and his older sister would explain that Joseph has a “lucky fin,” like the title character in the movie “Finding Nemo.”
Now, Joseph introduces himself to the other children. “I’m Joe Joe,” he says. Then he points to his arm and jokes that he bit off his missing hand. His parents don’t know where he came up with that story, Tidd said, but they’re glad he’s taking ownership of his uniqueness.
Pickett, a defender, came onto the Tidd family’s radar while she was playing for the Seattle Reign because, like Joseph, she had a congenital limb difference. Pickett joined the Pride last year, and the Tidds were excited that she would be playing near their Orlando, Florida-area home.
Joseph first met Pickett after the Pride’s home opener in April, when a Fox 35 Orlando reporter they knew worked with the soccer team to make the connection. The Tidd family wore No. 16 Pickett jerseys to cheer her on.
After the game, Tidd said, Pickett spent half an hour playing with Joseph while Joseph’s father, Miles, compared notes with Pickett’s parents about raising a child who has one hand. Joseph and Pickett played peekaboo by pulling their shirt sleeves over their arms, Tidd said.
“It took a minute for him to realize, ‘Wow, we’ve got the same arms,’ and then he just giggled,” Tidd said. “You could see it hit him, and then they were best friends after that.”
Pickett also inspires Joseph’s sisters, who are 4 and 14 years old, to keep from worrying about their younger brother’s “lucky fin,” Tidd said. Although people may stare or ask questions, Tidd said Pickett’s self-assuredness gives Joseph’s sisters confidence in their brother.
Colleen and Miles Tidd document their son’s adventures on an Instagram page called “tiddbit_outta_hand,” which they hope will remind their son and others with limbs like his that although they may do something differently from others, they should take pride in who they are.
“It’s just showing that he might be unique, but he’s no different than anyone else,” Colleen Tidd said. “He’s going to be able to accomplish it all.”