“What happened to your arm?” Charlie Tarver asked.
Charlie, who turns 3 years old in April, was born with symbrachydactyly, a rare condition causing one’s arm to stop forming during the time of development in the womb.
Charlie was born without a right hand. Zach Hodskins was born without a left hand.
Hodskins, a sophomore guard, walked onto the UF men’s basketball team in 2014 after leaving Milton High School in Georgia. On Tuesday, he returned to his home state when UF played the University of Georgia.
The afternoon before the game, Hodskins met Charlie.
His mother, Heather Tarver, reached out to the UF team through Facebook by posting an image of Charlie on their wall wearing a shirt that says “ten fingers are overrated.”
In the post, she wrote, “I am so glad to know that there are others with similar situations that can be such powerful role models to my little guy to show him that he can always do whatever he sets his mind to!”
Mike Robuck, program assistant for the UF men’s basketball team, and Alicia Longworth, assistant athletic director at UF, reached out to Tarver to set up Charlie and Hodskins’ meeting in Athens.
“We were very happy to accommodate Heather’s request,” Longworth said.
Tarver wanted her son to understand that being disabled does not mean you cannot follow your dreams. Hodskins is an example of that.
“It was great meeting the Tarvers,” Hodskins said. “I let them all know that he will grow up and develop like anyone else, and God his given him the opportunity to be an inspiration to others.”
It was the first time Charlie has met someone else who also only has one hand. Hodskins played with Charlie for an hour and helped answer any questions that Tarver had.
“Zach [Hodskins] told me to let him figure out how to do things himself,” Tarver said. “He said he knows it’s frustrating watching Charlie have trouble, but the best thing to do is let them fail and figure it out on their own.”
Tarver said she does not even know if Charlie understands that he only has one hand, and that he uses his mouth a lot when learning how to hold and open things.
“Zach is truly a super nice guy,” Tarver said. “I don’t know what my expectations were, but Zach exceeded them.”
The Gators beat the Bulldogs, 57-53, in their game that night.