Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital teamed with Grand Valley State University engineering students, Owen-Ames-Kimball commercial construction company, the Grand Rapids Police Department, various community volunteers and Grand Rapids parents Chris and Jane Weatherford to make magnificent memories this Halloween for young patients in wheelchairs.
Over the years, Chris and Jane have transformed their 9-year-old son Cam’s wheelchair into a spaceship, race car, fire engine, school bus and a tank for Halloween. They’ve been touched by Cam’s joy when he feels “just like the other kids in costumes.” This year, the Weatherfords led a team of volunteers who made the same thing happen for young Mary Free Bed patients in wheelchairs.
“We’re overwhelmed by everyone’s support and dedication,” said Jane Weatherford, whose friend, Molly Krauss, is a Mary Free Bed Guild member who helped spearhead the event. “So many individuals came together to be inspired by each other and kids they had never met.”
Multiple brainstorming and costume design and construction sessions culminated in the “Halloween for the Rest of Us” parade. The Oct. 29 event was led by the Forest Hills Central High School pep band and included a friendly dragon, a pony, Aladdin and his lamp, a dinosaur, two Batmen and Chase from PAW Patrol. Volunteers, family and friends also participated in the parade around the Mary Free Bed campus.
Cam, who has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair, was dressed as a GRPD SWAT officer, and his “car” was complete with lights and sirens. He served as parade grand marshal.
The GRPD stationed its armed response vehicle at the Mary Free Bed entrance as a surprise for Cam and the children when they returned from the parade.
“It was the best day,” Cam said.