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Magic Wheelchair Reveal Day
- Date: 10/21/2018 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
- Location: Lathrop High School
647 Spartan Way
Lathrop, California 95330
- Introduction: Come Join the Celebration at LHS be.NEXT to see Cash's Magic Wheelchair!
Taking time to visit him in his home and get to know the family, MUSD educators Scott and Jennifer Myers take a moment for a photo with Cash. Around him are visible the equipment he uses for distance learning.
Building a Magic Wheelchair for a Halloween Costume
Magic Wheelchair is a nonprofit organization whose vision is to put a smile on the face of children by transforming their wheelchairs into awesomeness.
MUSD teacher Kenneth Scott Myers—and some volunteers from his be.NEXT class—have been selected as only 1 of the 40 build teams in the United States creating a Magic Wheelchair Halloween Costume.
Meet Cash. He’s a typical eight-year-old boy but has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1, which is a condition that affects the nerve cells in his spinal cord. Cash can’t walk or sit up without assistance, so he has a wheelchair to maneuver him around.
Due to his condition, Cash attends school via a telepresence in the classroom and computer support at home. He and his family live in Turlock, and his younger brother attends school at home also.
“He uses an eye-gazing machine that generates speech by selecting what he wants to say,” said Ashley Goeppert, Cash’s mother.
For years, mom and dad have tried to make Halloween special.
“One year, my husband took a big plastic pool, cut and spray painted it red to try to make it like Rocket from Little Einsteins,” said Goeppert.
“We tried to make a police car one year and a firetruck one year. We have always tried to incorporate the wheelchair into his costume so that they are treating him as a typical kid.”
Cash’s parents Ashley and Cameron Goeppert heard of Magic Wheelchair a few months ago and decided to apply.
Luckily, Lathrop High School and be.NEXT teachers Scott and Jennifer Myers were interested in participating in this project and matched with the Goeppert family.
“We drove to his shop and classroom,” said Goeppert. “We were there for a couple hours taking some measurements with a cardboard box to kind of spec it out.”
Myers learned about the Magic Wheelchair project at a STEM conference and knew he had to get involved.
“When we got invited to do it, I asked for volunteers and a few students stepped up,” said Scott.
They are on a tight deadline, as they must finish the project for the big reveal on October 21st—just in time for Halloween.
Those three students—Alex Stock, Jessica Boyd, and Faith Burgos—are all seniors at Lathrop High School’s be.NEXT program.
For each of them, this is the first year they have been in the program.
“I don’t have much experience with tools in general, but I’m willing to learn,” explained Burgos. “If this is something that will make his day, then that is a good cause.”
Cash thought of ideas for his costume and decided on a big RC Monster that resembles Big Foot and just has one simple request for Myers and his student build team.
“His only special request is that the truck has working lights,” said Myers.
Scott added, “He can move his right index finger, so we are going to use a switch that is an electronic sensor so that he can activate it with zero pressure.”
Along with giving Cash some interactivity, the be.NEXT team are going to make Cash’s costume reusable so it’s not just a one-time experience. They are working to make it in pieces so that it can be disassembled and easily put together.
On the first day of the build, his students began cutting out foam that will be glued together to form wide monster truck tires.
“This is supposed to be an RC car version of a Monster Truck, and I drive RC cars for a hobby, so I’m hoping that my expertise can help,” said Boyd. “My dad does a lot of car stuff, like broncos and off-road vehicles, so I hope that can also help as we build it and make it look as realistic as possible.”
The plan is to make the design under 6 feet. Myers and be.NEXT will build a whole truck and make it so Cash can look over the side of the truck bed. The truck will have massively wide wheels due to the width of his wheelchair. The back of the truck will be open so that mom and dad can push him.
“I’m excited to see the end product and see what I can do to help,” said Stock.
We can’t wait to see how be.NEXT turns Cash’s wheelchair into awesomeness. Stay tuned for October 21st, which will be the reveal day for Cash’s Halloween costume.