Dad Makes Wheelchair Magic For Halloween

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  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • September 18, 2015 at 10:01 AM

The average kid can dress up as almost anything or anyone at Halloween, with supermarkets, clothing stores and costume shops providing all kinds of inspiration. But what about all the children that don’t fit into these cookie-cutter costumes?

Imagine wanting to celebrate Halloween like anyone else, but being in a wheelchair. This was the reality for Keaton Weimer, who was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) at nine months old. But in 2008, when he told his dad he wanted to be a pirate for Halloween, Ryan Weimer got an idea.

“Keaton has this wheelchair he cruises around in, and every pirate needs a ship, so let’s just build one around his chair,” Weimer explains on his website Magic Wheelchair.

“I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew it could be done somehow.  I don’t believe that there are any goals, dreams, or aspirations in life that can’t be achieved,” he says.

“I drew out some rough plans, and had to start over once or twice, but in the end we came out with a pretty awesome pirate ship for Keaton to sail around in for Halloween.”

The pirate ship was a hit, and it inspired Ryan Weimer to do it every year – not just for Keaton, but for many other children in similar situations. So he founded the Magic Wheelchair to do just that.

“Being in a wheelchair can be tough, so we want to help kids make something truly epic,” the website says. Every year, the non-profit organisation chooses five children to work with designers and builders to create their costumes.

“Kids, with their parents’ permission, submit a 1-3 minute video telling us what they want to be for Halloween and why they should be selected for this year’s Magic Wheelchair Build.”

The team then raises money for the supplies and other essentials, while volunteers run the rest of the ship.

“It not only takes a village, it takes a large group of dedicated and passionate people to make the dreams of kids come true,” the organisation says.

“Volunteers are essential to our mission. Because the costumes are both expensive and time consuming to create we rely on volunteers from around the country to help us run our organization, make costumes, reach out to kids, and make sure the end results do not disappoint.”

In 2015, Magic Wheelchair successfully raised US$25,668 (AUS$35,829) through crowdfunding service Kickstarter for its five costumes, which include a speedboat from Spongebob Squarepants and the Quinjet from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

There’s also plans to create more costumes in future years, with the Kickstarter page saying that “the number of children we can build for in the future is only limited by the funds we’re able to raise.”

Images: Screenshot from the Magic Wheelchair website; screenshot from a Kickstarter campaign video.

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