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Loyalist students start first Magic Wheelchair team outside the U.S.

By Ashley Clark [6]

BELLEVILLE – Cameron MacLean came across Magic Wheelchair [7] while surfing the Internet one day and decided it was something he wanted to introduce to the tech wing at Loyalist College [8].

“I was really excited about the possibilities of getting the program connected with the charity, finding we had a natural fit,” said 42-year-old MacLean, a second-year welding student.

Magic Wheelchair is a non-profit organization based out of Oregon that makes epic costumes for children in wheelchairs. Ryan Weimer and his wife are the founders.

Three of their five children were born with spinal muscular atrophy [9], a disease that gradually weakens muscles, resulting in the need for a wheelchair.

The idea for Magic Wheelchair started when Weimer’s oldest son, Keaton, wanted to be a pirate for Halloween, Weimer told QNet News from Oregon during a phone interview.

“It was really nothing more than us dressing him up for Halloween,” he said.


Keaton Weimer’s Halloween costume from 2008 when the idea for Magic Wheelchair started. Photo courtesy Magic Wheelchair

Weimer built a pirate ship around his son’s wheelchair and said the reactions to it took away the awkwardness people have around those in wheelchairs. 

“It really choked me up to see people really seeing my son how I see him for the first time. Just this real, amazing kid. And that was really touching to me that something like that could change people’s perceptions. And I thought, man this would be great to do for other people, other families like ours.”

Now Magic Wheelchair’s mission is to make an epic costume for every child in a wheelchair.

Loyalist College will be the first team outside of the United States to take part.

MacLean has paired up with 26-year-old manufacturing student Stephen Zammitti to help form a team.

“One of the big things for me, as far as Magic Wheelchair, is how it ties in with what we’re learning, what Loyalist College teaches. And they teach a lot of things educationally, but morally Loyalist is a huge compass for what’s right and such in the community. And what Loyalist does for Belleville and its surrounding area is great and we just wanted to keep up with what Loyalist does for the community,” said Zammitti.

The two announced their mission at a tech student event on Tuesday evening. Weimer even made an appearance via conference call, welcoming Loyalist to Magic Wheelchair, joined by two families who received costumes in the past.

One first-year manufacturing student at the event said she would be joining the team at Loyalist. Becky Smith is also a certified welder, and said she would be using those skills to help build the costume.

“Every kid should get to enjoy the holidays,” she said.

“Halloween is like my favourite time of the year so to get to join in to something like this, it’s awesome for me.”

MacLean said over 20 other people are interested in joining the team. He also said the child who will receive the costume will be identified in January, with the design and building process to follow and the final product being revealed at the end of September 2017.