Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease effecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement, causing those afflicted to be wheelchair bound. When Ryan and Laura Weimer’s son Keaton was diagnosed at 9 months old it changed how their family did everything, and Halloween was no exception. On his first Halloween in a chair, Keaton wanted to go as a pirate, who happen to cruise in ships — basically the wheelchairs of the sea. That’s when his dad had a lightbulb moment that would become Magic Wheelchairs.
“I realized, ‘Keaton has this wheelchair he cruises around in, and every pirate needs a ship, so let’s just build one around his chair!'” Ryan wrote on his website. Now 5 years and 4 kids later, Ryan and Lana have turned their family project into a non-profit organization, in order to make as many kids in need as happy as their own. They first identify a child through either an application, local children’s hospitals, or their partners at the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Once selected, the kid personally picks a costume for team of volunteer artists, engineers, carpenters, and general good people to custom make. The rest is just sweet, sweet candy collecting and cruising.
These costumes are a far cry from bedsheets moonlighting as ghosts. Each magic wheelchair costs between $2,000 and $4,000 and takes about 120 hours to make. In 2015 they were able to make 8 costumes total, and you can help take it up a notch this year by donating and/or volunteering. No pressure, but clearly these pirates are worth the booty and then some.