Cole Spencer, a 5-year-old with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spine, has no problem keeping up with his older siblings, except when it comes to trick-or-treating. Like many, it’s hard for him to reach the door to collect candy.
“Halloween is a hard thing when you are in a wheelchair or if you are in any state of disability,” Cole’s mom, Joann Spencer, said.
Four-year-old Cooper Baskett, who has a form of dwarfism, faced similar challenges. “Trick-or-treating was just rough because … he wouldn’t get candy. His brother would bring it back for him,” said Tonya Baskett, Cooper’s mom.
But one Utah hospital found a creative solution to help kids with disabilities on Halloween. Staff and volunteers at Shriners Hospitals for Children’s wheelchair costume clinic designed elaborate costumes to encourage candy givers to leave their doorsteps to hand treats to the kids.
With the help of cardboard, PVC pipe, and some paint and glue, kids in their wheelchairs were transformed into everything from a DJ spinning records to Superman in his phone booth and Rapunzel in her tower. The program helped 32 kids this year, the largest group since it started four years ago, said Scott Jerome, who works for the hospital.
“It’s fun to see them be a child and enjoy what they’re doing,” he said. Each costume costs up to $150 to build, but the program is supported by donations.
“They did a good job on it,” said Rachael Peekins, wearing the Rapunzel costume. “At my school, it’s going to be crazy. Everyone is going to look at me.”
Cole got to be Batman, while Cooper was Forky, a “Toy Story 4” character. Both their moms were thankful for the creative costumes.
“I think all parents with kids with disabilities just really want their kids to have the experience of what a normal child would have and when you get a glimpse of it, it just warms your heart,” Spencer said.
“Just to see his little face light up and spark up and how excited he was … When they roll away in their costumes, you’ve made a dream come true for them,” Baskett said.
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