Thanks to local high school robotics teams and nonprofit Variety KC, some Kansas City-area kids who use wheelchairs are getting upgraded rides just in time for the holidays.
As part of the Variety KC Go Baby Go program, 150 students teamed up to modify 22 Power Wheels cars for kids with disabilities.
“We take those cars and try to figure out a way to let that kid make the car go,” said Director Kendra Gagnon. “That way they can move on their own in their homes, in their communities, at their schools, at the park.”
“We’re able to practice our STEM skills and use that for something that we know will help our community,” said student and third year robotics team member Lexi Dixon.
When Samantha Spangler saw her son Hunter make his way around the gymnasium using one of the modified wheelchairs, she became emotional.
For kids like Hunter, that gift is priceless. “I have no words,” said Spangler, “I am emotional, I’m just thrilled to bits right now.”
“I actually teared up seeing him in it the very first time,” she said.
Hunter lives with severe autism and other disorders. “For years he’s watched his sisters play on their power wheels and he couldn’t,” said Spangler. That’s all changed thanks to Variety KC and the generous high school students.
“This is my favorite event, even aside from our regular competitions,” said Dixon, “this is something that I look forward to every year.”
“Give those kids a way that they can be not just mobile, but independently mobile,” said Gagnon, “they can choose how they move and where they move.”