When we see people with noticeable disabilities or illnesses, even the best among us can become standoffish. It's not necessarily a hostile instinct, and even Ryan Weimer -- father of two children in wheelchairs -- understands.
How do you approach someone if a basic social cue like a handshake isn't possible? Are you supposed to ask?
Whether people had good intentions or not, Ryan still noticed this created a barrier.
When Ryan built his son Keaton's first Halloween costume, he observed how other kids were fixated on the badass pirate ship instead of the wheelchair. This finally allowed children to see Keaton for who he was.
Essentially, the costume broke down that barrier. And with Magic Wheelchair, Ryan has made it his life's work to break down barriers for other children.
Dressing up was a trick that Cassie Hudson had already discovered. At 10 years old, she's been dressing up at comic-cons for years and is a regular cosplayer. Before Magic Wheelchair built her Green Arrow motorcycle, her go-to costume was Dr. Who.
Her other hobbies mostly exist online, allowing her to talk to others while concealing her wheelchair.
When we visited her home outside of Portland, she preferred to crawl room to room using her arms. Her mother acknowledges she's always had a tough relationship with her wheelchair.
The beauty of the Green Arrow costume, however, is that its structural integrity is dependent on Cassie's wheelchair.
So not only did this break down the barrier, but because her costume only exists because of her wheelchair, she started feeling less abrasive toward the chair itself.
As her mother says,
Now there are kids who are running around, who she's always envious of, who are now envious of her because she's in the motorcycle!
Fitting in is tough for any kid. As Ryan attests, the special thing about children with disabilities and illnesses is their battles have left them with more character than anyone.
Magic Wheelchair simply allows other people to see that.
To donate or volunteer, please visit The Magic Wheelchair.