Some dads are, in a word, awesome! And then there are some dads who take awesome to another level.
Ryan Weimer, an Oregon father of five, takes awesome to another level through his non-profit Magic Wheelchair. Magic Wheelchair makes Halloween costumes for children bound to wheelchairs. The mission of Magic Wheelchair is "to give kids in wheelchairs an unforgettable Halloween by creating custom costumes for them at no expense to their families." The non-profit's vision is "to put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair by transforming their wheelchairs into awesomeness created by our hands and their imaginations." Every year, Magic Wheelchair selects five children for whom it builds costumes.
I saw a story on the news the other day about Magic Wheelchair and was blown away. The costumes--which are amazing to behold--incorporate the wheelchairs. A costume surrounds a wheelchair and the child as if the costume had been an integral part of the wheelchair all along. But what really blew me away is how Ryan, with help from his wife Lana, used his considerable design and engineering talent to turn a life-altering event into an opportunity to help children. The life-altering event was the birth of Ryan and Lana's son Keaton who was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy called spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA. (Their younger son, Bryce, also has SMA, and they lost a daughter with the condition shortly before she turned 3. Another son died at birth.)
You can read more about the genesis of Magic Wheelchair in this Today.com story, but the long and short of it is Ryan started to experiment with ways to make Halloween special for Keaton. Through trial and error, he learned how to create the costumes. Keaton loved them, and Ryan realized that other children like his son would love them, too. So he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to start Magic Wheelchair. And the rest, as they say, is history--a wonderful history, in this case.
To learn more about Magic Wheelchair, including how to submit a request for a costume or to support the organization, visit their website.