Magic Wheelchair are a non-profit organisation who go to outstanding lengths to brighten the lives of disabled children across America.
You may remember the story of Cassie Hudson, who was gifted with a remarkable Green Arrow wheelchair at this year’s Rose City Comic Con.
Looking further into the company, we found the origin story of Magic Wheelchair and we simply had to share it with you all. To see more examples of their work and find out more, you can download an info pack here.
Ryan and Lana Weimer, the founders of Magic Wheelchair, have five
children, three of whom were born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which
requires the use of wheelchairs for the entirety of their lives.
Each Halloween, Ryan made the biggest, “baddest” costumes he could for
his sons, Keaton and Bryce, for many years. Once news of these costumes
spread, Ryan began receiving requests from parents around the world
asking if he would transform their kids’ wheelchairs into “magic”…and then,
in 2015, Ryan and Lana decided to make that happen and started the nonprofit
organization that seeks to put a smile on the face of every
child in a wheelchair.
The Beginning, As Told by Our Founder, Ryan “The Dude” Weimer
“First of all, if you haven’t heard the term Muscular Dystrophy (MD), check
it out at www.MDA.org. You might have heard of a small movement called
the Ice Bucket Challenge? This craze is helping to raise awareness for
ALS, a branch of MD. Join us on this adventure as we help to bring hope
and awareness to another branch of MD called Spinal Muscular Atrophy
We have five children. My first son, Keaton, was diagnosed at 9 months
old with SMA and this diagnosis has forever changed our family and how
we do things. I could write you a long, sometimes difficult, but ultimately
amazing story of our adventures with our children and SMA, but for now
let’s just say that we have to look at life through a different set of lenses
than the average man or woman.
That’s what really set this whole project in motion five years ago when
Keaton got his first wheelchair. Enter Halloween 2008. “Hey, pal. What do
you want to be for Halloween?” I ask. Keaton thinks for no more than a
second and responds, “A pirate.” My thoughts go a little like this, “Ah, cool,
at least he doesn’t want to be Dora the Explorer, one of his favorite shows
at the time.” A couple days later I had one of those moments when my
brain decides it’s the best time for thinking – this usually seems to happen
way too early in the morning when I should be sleeping or in the shower –
but during this magical thinking moment I realized, “Keaton has this
wheelchair he cruises around in, and every pirate needs a ship, so let’s just
build one around his chair!” 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. And besides, I was
only building a pirate ship, not finishing a PHD in engineering. 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
Keaton loved it! What kid wouldn’t love having a pirate ship to roll deep in,
sailing through the streets, collecting Halloween booty? He even made the
front page of the newspaper!
So that’s how this all started. Now every year as I pose the question,
“What do you want to be for Halloween, Keaton?” I can’t help but cringe in
anticipation of the challenge that each answer will issue. It’s always fun,
frustrating, discouraging, occasionally painful, and (my wife would add)
Ultimately, creating each costume provides an awesome
experience: taking something from Keaton’s imagination and seeing it
realized as we hit the streets with our kids leading the way. People are
amazed and it is a great opportunity for us to let people know about SMA
and MD. Absolutely the most rewarding thing is hearing my kids say along
the way, “That’s awesome, Dadda!”