GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The smiles and laughter were dead giveaways that a Saturday Halloween event for Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital’s youngest patients was a success.
The event, called Halloween for the Rest of Us, shined the spotlight on children in decorated wheelchairs as they paraded near Mary Free Bed’s Grand Rapids campus on Wealthy Street.
“Everybody just came together to make it a success,” said Molly Krauss, a member of the Mary Free Bed Guild, which governs the hospital’s operations. “It’s a way to make them feel really important and if they do get to go back to their school, everyone’s going to want to know what their costume is. They’re going to be like the hero of the day!”
Krauss came up with the idea after getting a Christmas card from Jane Weatherford and her family, which featured Weatherford’s son in a decorated wheelchair. Patients were given the chance to choose whatever they wanted to be for Halloween and students from Grand Valley State University worked to make their ideas a reality.
“There was no limit,” Weatherford said. “We let the kids choose what they wanted and it’s just been very exciting.”
Her son was the grand marshal and his wheelchair was decorated to look like the Grand Rapids Police Department’s armored vehicle. Other costumes included a rocket ship, a genie’s lamp and a dragon.
“For us to be able to celebrate in the community and have accessible curbs and places to get together and not be set aside for our circumstances, but to really just wholeheartedly participate,” said Matt Nolan, whose son Liam participated in the event.
Liam said his favorite parts of the event were “the music and marching around.”
“They made the pictures up and then I decided which Batmobile I wanted and they made that Batmobile around my chair,” Liam said.
Mary Free Bed officials said they are considering repeating the event next year. Liam already has an idea for his next costume.
“I might be Superman,” he said with a smile.