re:3D’s Gigaprize for 2017 of a large format 3D printer has gone to Magic Wheelchair, an organization empowering handicapped children to follow in their heroes’ footsteps with incredible costumes that integrate wheelchairs.
Magic Wheelchair is an organization dedicated to creating mesmerizing costumes for disadvantaged children. The venture began for founder Ryan Weimar back in 2008, when he created a pirate Halloween costume (complete with ship) for his then three-year-old son, Keaton.
Diagnosed with Spinal Muscolar Atrophy at the age of 9 months, Keaton’s costume lit a fire for Weimar that has grown into an ambitious non-profit that aims to make as many costumes for children confined to wheelchairs as possible.
And now, augmenting Magic Wheelchair’s arsenal of wheelchair costume building tools, is a large format 3D printer courtesy of re:3D’s 2017 Gigaprize. For every 100 3D printers re:3D sells, the company gives one away to a worthy cause. Past winners of the award include the Tunapanda Institute in Nairobi, Kenya and Good Works Studio in Houston, Texas.
Weimer recalls the reception to that pirate costume:
“People seemed to look past his “disability;” they looked past his wheelchair and saw this cool kiddo cruising around in a pirate ship. Where normally other kids who didn’t know Keaton would stare from a distance, this costume created an immediate and intense level of inclusion.”
Magic Wheelchair collaborates with volunteers nationwide and has established a network of local teams. The charity offers a builder’s manual that explains the process of putting together a team.
Gigaprizes for Mega Makers
It took some years for Magic Wheelchair to get off the ground, with a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 campaign successfully raising funds for 5 costumes. That first year the charity created eight. The following year it produced 24, and 50 in 2017.
In addition, the organization has established a collaboration with Stan Winston School of Character Arts.
“The co-founders Matt and Erich both serve on the board of Magic Wheelchair, and as part of this amazing connection all of our volunteers get access to the school,” Ryan explains. “We have cream of the crop special effects artists helping our build teams! The school has completely changed how I take a build on.”
Despite the incredible creations the Magic Wheelchair’s network fabricates for children each year, the possibilities broaden a little more with the Gigaprize.
In addition to the costumes themselves, the 3D printer will enable the Magic Wheelchair team to up its inhouse production game, printing tools and kits for dissemination with its volunteers.
“3D printers are quickly becoming commonplace in fabrication and special effects, so it’s going to be incredible having such an amazing printer in our hands,” Ryan adds. “We have already had some 3D artists reach out to help, and we have a solid connection with Pixologic and the Zbrush community. Sky’s really the limit here!”
The impact of each costume created by Magic Wheelchair is huge for the recipient. Ultimately, it’s the experiences of the children that are driving the organization’s efforts. Thanks to Gigabot, the group will be able to continue bringing a smile to many kids’ faces.
Fire engine costume made by Magic Wheelchair. (Image: Gigabot)