Disability

Costumes to go: Rolling out for Halloween

Keaton Weimer on his dragon

Halloween is big business and when you use a wheelchair you want your outfit to pack a punch when you go trick-or-treating.

In America, Ryan Weimer and his wife Lana, have tapped into that market by providing children with the 3D costumes of their imaginations.

Costing between $2,000 and $4,000 each, a team of volunteers spend about 120 hours building the costumes which range from aeroplanes to dragons.

Image caption Daniel's Tie-fighter from Star Wars has been getting some attention at various conventions in Portland
Image caption Four stages of the Tie-fighters being constructed by the team of volunteers

The Weimers, from Oregon, have five children and were inspired by three of their sons who use wheelchairs due to Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) - a degenerative disease which causes muscle weakness.

Ryan Weimer says: "My first son, Keaton, was diagnosed at nine months old with SMA and this diagnosis has forever changed our family and how we do things.

"We have to look at life through a different set of lenses than the average man or woman."

Weimer first made a costume for his son in Halloween 2008 when he requested to be a pirate.

Image caption Ryan Weimer thought: "Why would you wear a pirate ship when you could sail one?"

He says: "I realised, Keaton has this wheelchair he cruises around in, and every pirate needs a ship, so let's just build one around his chair.

"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."

He says every year he "can't help but cringe" at the thought of what his son might request but "it's always fun, frustrating, discouraging, occasionally painful, and expensive".

Hunter Power took delivery of his Quinjet, inspired by the Agents of Shield vehicle, earlier this year.

Image caption Hunter Powers cruises in his Quinjet from Agents of Shield
Image caption School students got involved in building the Quinjet for Hunter

His mum, Ginger, says it was "the best Halloween ever for Hunter".

She says: "Not even the pouring rain during the trick-or-treating could dampen his spirit.

"Hunter still couldn't get up to people's doors, but they came to him, completely amazed by his costume. "

As word about the designs spread so did the requests from other families wanting to create something special for their children and in 2015 Magic Wheelchair, a non-profit charity, was created.

Image caption Ryan Weimer has turned his passion into a US-wide business to help as many children as possible
Image caption Kayla opted for an ice castle which could light up having been inspired by the film Frozen

The funds to make each costume are raised through donations, but rely on a team of volunteers to give up their time to design and construct them.

Each year children are invited to submit a short video explaining why they deserve one of the bespoke costumes and what it is they would most like to be.

This Halloween designs will be rolled out in 11 States with 18 different teams having helped build 25 costumes including a Batmobile, Cinderella and Fire Engine.

Magic Wheelchair also has teams in Chile and Canada and is hoping to expand globally.

Image caption Melinda in Chicago really wanted to be part of the Ghostbusting squad
Image caption Dragons have proved a popular choice for many of the Magic Wheelchair recipients

Photos courtesy of Magic Wheelchair

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