Grand Rapids hospital makes costumes for young patients in wheelchairs

Posted at 5:09 PM, Oct 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-31 21:35:34-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It's a holiday where kids across the country dress up and run around getting candy from neighbors, but one group tends to feel a little left out on Halloween: children in wheelchairs.

This year, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital teamed up with some local community partners to make sure those kids also got to celebrate like everyone else.

For patients at Mary Free Bed, their wheelchairs are an important and necessary part of everyday life, which is why outpatient Cam Weatherford's parent's started making intricate and inclusive costumes seven years ago.

“We wanted him to enjoy Halloween with his friends. So we wanted him to be able to have a costume just like everyone else, and that was a way to incorporate it," Jane Weatherford tells FOX 17.


For seven years they've been designing special costumes for Cam, outfits that made their way on to a family Christmas card and ended up in the hands of Molly Krauss at Mary Free Bed.

“Every picture they took of Halloween was on their Christmas card and I kept looking at these Christmas cards thinking 'Ok we need to do this for Mary Free Bed,'” Krauss said.

Krauss called up the Weatherfords for help.  After partnering with students at Grand Valley State University and construction company Owen-Ames-Kimball, they got to work building everything from the Batmobile to My Little Pony's Rainbow Dash.

“That was very important to us that every child got to pick what they wanted to be. So we didn’t put any limits on it," said Jane Weatherford.


There were enough special costumes to fill a parade, complete with the Forrest Hills Marching Band and Cam serving as the Grand Marshall.

The parade left a smile on the kids' faces and made lasting memories for the people who helped bring their dreams to life.

“It was really moving, you know I never really thought about it because I’ve always had the privilege of just being whatever I wanted to be. So I think every kid deserves to have a Halloween costume that they love," said Taylor Rieckhoff, a GVSU Engineering Student Volunteer.