The nonprofit Magic Wheelchair partnered with students and alumni at Virginia Commonwealth University to create a special Halloween costume for 16-year-old Alex Hayes. Hayes is confined to a wheelchair because she was born with an extremely rare chromosomal mutation, known as GRIN2B.
Through the partnering with Magic Wheelchair, the VCU students and alumni met with Alex and her family. They learned that Alex’s favourite toy is a Fisher Price See n’ Say that plays farm animal sounds. Using this as inspiration, they decided to create a barn that fastens over Alex’s wheelchair and spotlights her in the center.
Over the course of eight weeks, the VCU students and alumni from the dentistry and medicine department created the 7-feet-by-5-feet red foam barn. They learned how to optimize the costume from Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit organization “that makes epic costumes for children in wheelchairs”. The project was funded by Magic Wheelchair, along with a VCU student bake which raised $300.
The barn has a black shingled roof, red trim, windows and a loft. In the center, Alex will be dressed as her favorite animal — a rooster. Unfortunately, little is known about GRIN2B, and only 120 cases have been diagnosed worldwide. Common symptoms include “hypotonia (low muscle tone), global developmental delay, some form of intellectual disability and non-verbal or delayed speech” according to GRIN2B.com.
“This is becoming a tradition that I hope VCU will continue,” said VCU student Sarah Simpson. “Because little girls like Chloey and 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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