2016 november issue

Page 27

photo cour tesy of magic wheelchair

Keaton Weimer beams with mischievous pride as the Magic Wheelchair creation “How to Train Your Dragon” dazzles with bug-eyed ferocity. Magic Wheelchair is a nonprofit that invents and builds custom costumes for kids in wheelchairs.

“ Kids didn’t hesitate to come up to him and talk to him. People were finally seeing my son the way I saw him, just as a really cool kid. Other families, they need to have that experience.” — ryan weimer Helping those with physical disabilities


hen you’re building costumes as elaborate, creative and as loving as these, Halloween is a year-round event. Magic Wheelchair (magicwheelchair.org), a nonprofit that builds custom “costumes” for children in wheelchairs, was founded by Ryan and Lana Weimer of Keizer, Oregon in 2014. Three of their five children were born with spinal muscular atrophy, meaning they will need wheelchairs for their entire lives. Program guidelines call for kids—with their parents’ permission—to submit a 1-3-minute video telling them what costume they want for Halloween (or a parade, celebration, or another event) and why they should be selected for this year’s Magic

Wheelchair Build. Magic Wheelchair reviews the submissions and selects at least five children, who work with designers and builders to create the ultimate wheelchair costume in time for their event. The concept began when Ryan Weimer asked his son, Keaton— diagnosed with SMA at 9 months old—what he wanted to be for Halloween 2008. Keaton said he wanted to be a pirate, and his dad’s imagination went into overdrive. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but we ended up building a pretty cool pirate ship around his chair,” he says. Weimer was gratified not only by his son’s response but the responses of others. “It changed people’s perspective in how they



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