These Students Build Awesome Costumes for Kids in Wheelchairs

Magic Wheelchair transforms regular wheelchairs into incredible creations straight out of a kid's dream.

Oct 18, 2018

With the crisp air and falling leaves comes the one night of the year reserved for both tricks and treats. Only for Alex Hayes, there were no tricks, only a sweet ride. Hayes is a 16-year-old with GRIN2B, a rare chromosomal mutation.

When students and alumni of Virginia Commonwealth University schools of Dentistry and Medicine formed a partnership with non-profit 
Magic Wheelchair, they spent time with Hayes and her family and decided to create a costume she and her family would cherish.

Soon after hearing that Hayes’ favorite toy was Fisher Price’s See n Say (complete with farm animal sounds), they began creating a barn that would showcase Hayes, not her wheelchair. For the 16-year-old, the team dreamt up an outfit that wouldn’t add bulk to her wheelchair, one that wouldn’t feel heavy when impressing fellow Halloween celebrators.

While all good things may take time, this incredible 7-feet-by-5-feet foam red barn with a black shingled roof, window, loft, and white trim took just six weeks. The team even thought to make a rooster outfit for Hayes so she could dress as her favorite animal among the barn’s fall motifs and signs that read “Alex’s Farm.”

As for the treats aspect of the project, the funds for the collaboration came à la bake sale profits, organized by Magic Wheelchair, an organization striving to “put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair.”

On October 22nd, the volunteers showed Hayes her costume during a party of 60+ guests, her family joining in on the fun theme by dressing up as farm animals. Her grandfather took on the role of Old MacDonald for a night and pushed her around in her wheelchair while she enjoyed the ride in her hand-crafted barn. Her big smile and excitement made the event even more special and memorable.

Sarah Simpson, a fourth-year School of Medicine student, said she hopes the project will continue to spread joy. “This is becoming a tradition that I hope VCU will continue,” she said. “Because little girls like Alex will never forget the impact that Magic Wheelchair and the volunteers made when they dressed up as their favorite things and had the time of their lives.”

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Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.