GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Halloween is just around the corner, and we know 35 kids who just can’t wait! They’ve decided what they want to be and have been measured for customized costumes that make their wheelchairs disappear. Volunteers from the community and Mary Free Bed are sawing, gluing, pounding and painting. They’re adding lights, sparkles and, in some cases, magic to make the costumes move.
When: 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26
Where: Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, 235 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
Route: Marchers will parade on the sidewalk around the Mary Free Bed block, right past Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital so patients there can watch, too.
Parking: Free parking will be available in the lot across the street from Mary Free Bed’s main entrance.
Bad weather: The forecast looks great, but if Mother Nature produces a Michigan weather surprise, the community outdoor parade will be cancelled.
The Forest Hills Central Marching Band will get things rolling for the kids, who also will be joined by Cosplay Crusaders superheroes and furry friends from the West Michigan Therapy Dog Association. Emergency vehicles will be on display from the Grand Rapids Police and Fire departments as well as the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.
This labor of love is a testament to the heart of our community. Dozens of volunteers, including Mary Free Bed Guild members and staff, Owen-Ames-Kimball construction engineers, Grand Valley State University engineering students and Grand Rapids Police Department officers, have been working for weeks to create the elaborate costumes. The kids get to keep their customized, transportable costumes to wear at school or around the neighborhood. Last year, one of the costumes took first place in a school competition.
We need one more thing: enthusiastic parade spectators to cheer on these Halloween Heroes. If you or a loved one has a wheelchair costume, please bring your family and friends, and join in the fun!
Halloween Heroes Parade Facts
Here’s a glimpse of several of our Halloween Heroes and their costumes:
- Eight-year-old Chase Fuller will be DJ Marshmello. Chase, who was paralyzed in a May car crash and came to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation began listening to the popular DJ for inspiration during therapy sessions.
- Nate Boersma, 6, whose wheelchair was transformed last year into the Polar Express, decided to stick with the train theme again this year and be James the Red Engine from The Railway Series children’s books. He and his family also volunteered to help make costumes for other kids.
- Molly Malleis, 4, wants to be a firefighter, and her twin brother, Patrick, wants to be a dinosaur. To tie both costumes together, Molly will be a fire truck from Jurassic Park, towing her brother as a T-Rex.
- Alicia Marewski, 7, is a triplet with identical sisters. Her wheelchair will be decorated as an ice cream truck, and her sisters will be part of the costume as ice-cream shoppers.
- Alex Mills, 7, was an airline pilot in last year’s Halloween Heroes Parade. He’s back again this year as a dragon and Viking from “How to Train Your Dragon.”
ABOUT MARY FREE BED
Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. Since 1891, Mary Free Bed experts have restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of more than 110 specialized medical and sports rehabilitation programs and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables our specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results. For additional information, visit maryfreebed.com.