As owner of The Wrap Doctor, Kyle Flavell thought he’d seen it all — until Atif Rashid walked through his door.
The Wrap Doctor, located in Stittsville, produces custom vinyl designs and uses them to wrap a wide variety of objects. With his three employees, Flavell says he’s wrapped everything from high-end sports cars and motorcycles, to washing machines and refrigerators. “You name it, we’d wrapped it,” he said.
But in February, Rashid approached Flavell with a new challenge — his prosthetic leg.
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Rashid, 39, learned he had cancer in his right leg in 2015. He was told by his doctor that the leg needed to be amputated for him to live. Rashid said he was determined to be strong and alive for his son, Azlan, who was only 11 months old at the time.Fast forward to today and Rashid has learned to drive, walk and work with one leg and his prosthetic. But as an advocate for amputees and people with disabilities, Rashid said he was looking for more confidence and ownership over his prosthetic.
“A prosthetic is very personal. It starts as just a piece of equipment, so it has to be personalized so a person can connect with it more,” he said. “And it is painful to wear sometimes. So something more personal is better, it gives you more confidence and stands for something more.”
Rashid had been searching for someone to wrap his prosthetic leg, but was continuously “ghosted” or “given the cold shoulder,” he said.
“Then one day I was sitting down in my office wishing I could find someone, just an angel to come down and help me out,” he said, “and someone told me to call Kyle. They said he was looking for something different, something extraordinary.”
Once the two met, it was hard to tell who was more keen on the project, Rashid recalled.
“I was surprised how excited he was, he was more excited, probably more than myself.”
After measurements and a few draft designs, Flavell and his team landed on a look for the wrap that couldn’t have made Rashid happier: Iron Man.
“I told them I wanted it as a dream of mine. I’ve been an amputee for eight years, people always call me Iron Man,” Rashid explained. “I had this dream and they delivered it within a day and a half.”
The prosthetic wrap features a red and silver design that looks like interlocking metal, making the limb a spitting image of the Marvel superhero’s suit.
“I’ve been inspired by Iron Man since before my amputation and it’s been my way of dealing with my amputation and tragic loss,” said Rashid. “It’s the way I deal with trauma. The character, the persona of Iron Man, I’ve always found him inspiring.”
Since his amputation, Rashid has had a quote from Iron Man hanging on his wall: “Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.” Because he was caring for a young child at the time of his amputation, Rashid said the quote inspired him to get up, heal and strengthen himself.
And Rashid didn’t just gain part of Iron Man’s suit — he got his persona, too. Since feeling more ownership and connection to the prosthetic, Rashid said he feels “a new level of confidence.”
As an advocate, Rashid aims to educate, empower and inspire people when it comes to living with disabilities and prosthetics. He encourages people to ask questions about his leg and the Iron Man design has made him more approachable.
“I always keep my leg visible, so people young and old come up and ask me questions. People would tell their kids not to ask, but now it looks like an Iron Man leg so people are more at ease,” he said. “I get to inspire little kids, they’re more confident in asking questions and that’s what I wanted, to be more approachable.”
His own children see their dad as a superhero, too. Rashid is the father of Azlan, now 9, and Zohan, 6, and says he’s been able to show up for them and inspire them in a new way.
“At first, they said, ‘You’re Iron Man, but you can’t fly, right, dad?’” Rashid said. “I said, ‘I don’t have to do that. What’s the real power of Iron Man? He inspires, he leads, he makes people do better. I don’t need to fly or shoot lasers, I educate people and inspire people.’ And they were really excited to hear that.”
Rashid has taught himself to ride a bike and has taken big steps in starting his own business. As a CPA, he plans to open a bookkeeping firm that will employ amputees and people with disabilities.
As for Flavell, he is determined to get the word out so similar businesses in the area know how easy it can be to provide these services for amputees.
From start to finish, the process took five days, but The Wrap Doctor team only needed the prosthetic for one day to fit the designs. The cost for prosthetic wraps is $300 to $500, Flavell said, depending on the material and design. In comparison, car wraps start at $3,000.
“It’s not only significant as far as wrapping it, it’s changing their life in a way,” said Flavell, who did not charge Rashid for the work. “We’re all about that, we’re not here for the money. We’re here to put a smile on their face.”
To take the experience further, Flavell, 24, said The Wrap Doctor plans to offer five pro-bono prosthetic wraps each year — three for children through CHEO and two for the general public.
“I’m not hoping it becomes popular for myself, but I want other shops to get on it as well. It’s a way to make these people’s lives so different. It’s a small way for us to do something great,” said Flavell, who co-founded a charitable organization at age 15 and won an award in high school for most volunteer hours. “These things can last anywhere from, depending on how you care for it, two to seven years. It’s a small margin of time to use to give them years of happiness.
“We’re just trying to give back in a way we can and make something that someone has lost theirs again.”