Walkin' & Rollin' Costumes
We create costumes for kids in wheelchairs and walkers, FREE OF CHARGE to the families that receive them! We do this with a combination of volunteers willing to construct these costumes, and donations from people like you. So please pledge and spread the word. The more money we raise, the more children we can build for in the future! Our goal is to build costumes for every family that contacts us, in any city, but that can only be achived through hard work and dedication.
What is Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes?
Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes is a nonprofit organization that turns kids’ walkers and wheelchairs into the best Halloween costume ever! Lon & Anita Davis are the parents of 2 boys, 1 of whom, Reese, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (a childhood cancer) at the age of 2 months old. The tumor was on his spine and ended up crushing his spinal cord preventing him the full use of his legs and trunk muscles. Together, with the help of now 10-year-old Reese, the family launched Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes with this simple goal in mind: “To provide any child with special needs equipment a unique and custom built costume for them, free of charge to the family.”
How it all started.
When Reese received his first wheelchair around the age of 3, he was really into the movie, “Wall-E.” So for Halloween he wanted to be the title character. We knew there wasn’t a way to purchase a costume that would work for him, so we decided to build it from scratch. The end result featured mechanical arms that Reese could control from within the body and large track treads on the side of his wheelchair. The costume blew people away and it even ended up in the Kansas City Star newspaper.
Each year following, Reese would come up with creative ideas for his costume, and Dad would have to figure out a way to make them work. Year two, Reese wanted to be Buzz Lightyear and wanted his wheelchair to be the Claw Machine from the first “Toy Story” movie. That costume ended up coming in 2nd place for a city wide costume contest and was featured on the home page of the Kansas City Star website.
Fast forward to 2015. We have numerous costumes under our belt, each being more elaborate than the last. We were even featured on the evening news for our Comic Con costume in 2015 when we introduced the debut of Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes.
Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes' mission is “to provide any child with special needs equipment a unique and custom built costume for them, free of charge to the family. There are some great ways you can help.
How you can get involved
There are a few ways you can help Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes.
1) PLEDGE. Any amount is appreciated, but the more you give, the more children we can build for!
2) SHARE. Please let your friends and family know about the Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes campaign! Your support will not only help some great kids, but will also assist in spreading awareness about the challenges faced by kids in wheelchairs. These kids want to dress up just like every other kid, but not every kid gets a costume like these.
3) VOLUNTEER. Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes wants YOU! If you're a designer, costume builder, craftsperson, social media master, or just want to do whatever is needed to help us on this journey, please contact us on the Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes website. There is a form to fill out to become one of our elite “Custom Costume Builders.” (Sign Up Here ) We never know what skills we might need until we have a child with a dream.
Where will the Kickstarter funds go?
100% of your pledge money will go to purchasing materials and supplies for these one-of-a-kind wheelchair costumes, and shipping them to the families (if needed). Each costume, depending on the design, can range in price from $100-$250. Any additional funds beyond our goal, will be used to build even more costumes for more kids! The more kids we can help, the better! Please consider donating.
How do kids get a costume from Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes?
Parents can fill out our form on our website, www.WalkinRollin.org , to request a costume. We work with the family to design the costume based on what the child wants. We provide sketches and design concepts for the family to approve.
If they are outside of the Kansas City Metro area, we then pair them up with a Custom Costume Builder in their area. That way, the builder can meet with the family and can take precise measurements of the chair or equipment. Since every wheelchair is different, it is important to do this to make sure the costume fits properly. We would love to build a costume for every family that contacts us. However, if we are unable to locate a Custom Costume Builder in their area, we will still work with the family to help produce what we can from a distance. Some costume parts can easily be built with simple measurements provided by the family and then shipped to the family. Others, we may have to be more creative. It all depends on the costume that the child would like.
How many kids will get a costume from Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes?
The number of children we can build for in the future is only limited by the funds we're able to raise and the number of Custom Costume Builders we can locate. So please pledge! We hope to eventually have a full network of Custom Costume Builders around the nation so we can create these awesome costumes for every child with special needs equipment, and ALWAYS, make them free of charge to the family.
The Best Halloween for these kids.
Being in a wheelchair is very tough, especially for a child who just wants to run and play with their friends. My son recently told me that he doesn’t think of his wheelchair as a wheelchair. He thinks of it as part of him. Where ever he goes, the wheelchair goes. So when Halloween comes, he wants all of him to dress up, including his wheelchair. I don't think my son is the only kid who thinks that way, do you?
Risks and challenges
The main challenges of this project is creating the costumes to accommodate the individual child's needs and equipment. They need to be light weight, compact, easily transportable, but most of all fun for the child and make it exactly what they were hoping for. Because every wheelchair or walker is different, the Custom Costume Builder has to take precise measurements and conduct test fittings to make sure the costume fits and functions correctly on Halloween. Every costume we have made so far has had stumbles and setbacks while trying to make it fit without hindering any functionality of the equipment. But those challenges are what make each costume better than the last. We learn from our past costumes and improve for the next one.
This has been one of the biggest years for growth for Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes and it’s only May! The amazing support behind this project has always amazed me.
Olathe High School Builds a Star Wars Ship for a Local Child
Earlier this year, we were contacted by Olathe Northwest High School’s “Engineer a Better World” team about building a costume for a local child. We had multiple kids sign up to be chosen for the costume and the students at ONW picked 8-year old Davey. He was a bright, excited young boy who said he wanted something Star Wars themed. He came in with his family to meet the students and we gave him lots of options for a Star Wars ship. Davey chose the Tie Interdictor, and couldn’t wait for the final costume to be revealed in a couple months.
Lead by their teacher, Mrs. O’Gorman, the students tackled the difficult task of developing a costume that would work for both Davey and his family. Davey came in for fittings a couple times over the next few weeks and each time was more eager to see the final costume. An upcoming Planet Comicon had offered to have us debut the costume during their opening ceremonies. We thought this would work perfectly with the Star Wars theme for the costume.
During the reveal at the opening ceremonies, Davey and his family were introduced to Spencer Wilding, who played Darth Vader in the Star Wars movie, “Rogue One.” Spencer helped us reveal to Davey his new Tie Interdictor costume. The costume was an amazing accomplishment by the students at ONW. They did a fabulous job getting all the details and even incorporated sound effects that Davey could control while driving his new costume. After the opening ceremony, we all took the costume to the convention floor, installed it on Davey’s chair, and his whole family enjoyed free passes to drive all over Planet Comicon. I’m not sure how many people took their picture with Davey, but I do know that he was smiling from ear to ear in each and every one of those photos.
A New Video About Walkin' & Rollin' Costumes
29 Pixel Studios worked with us this year to produce an amazing video about Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes. It covered our history, why we make these costumes for kids, and even showcased the work that Olathe Northwest High School did on Davey’s Tie Interdictor costume. It has been posted on all of our social media pages, and if you have about 6 minutes, I would recommend you take a look at it.
We Debuted Our First 2-Person, 2-Wheelchair Costume
We never stop trying to learn new techniques, work with new materials, and try things that have never been done before. This year, we challenged ourselves with creating a big costume that we could use for trade shows and presentations, and we knew we wanted to go big with this one. So, the idea came up, to try and incorporate 2-wheelchairs into a single costume. This was something we hadn’t seen done before but introduced a new level of challenge. The result was our largest costume we had ever built. Sitting at 8 feet wide, and 9 feet long, we built “The Ghost” from Star Wars Rebels animated series. This unique design featured one wheelchair in the center of the costume that was raised on caster wheels. This child was able to man the top turret guns of The Ghost. The second chair backed into the front of the costume, and then had the cockpit inserted around their chair and attached to the rest of the costume. We kept the frame built out of PVC pipes for stability, but then used thin sheets of PVC for siding all over the costume. Vinyl stickers were produced for all the artwork and I really felt that it kept that animated look from the series.
It was a huge hit when it debuted at Planet Comicon, and ended up catching a lot of attention online. Many of the cast members on the show retweeted photos of the costume adding their own comments on how much they liked it.
"And now we know why the Rebellion wins!!"
- Freddie Prinze Jr., Voice actor for Kanan in "Star Wars Rebels"
The retweet that caught out attention the most, was when Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, commented on the costume.
"#RadRebelsROCK #JuniorJedisInTheHouse #BestFansInTheGalaxy"
- Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker in the "Star Wars" franchise
This costume will continue to make appearances at some of our upcoming trade shows and comic cons, so keep an eye out for future events.
2016 has been all about growth. In the past 6 weeks, we have doubled the number of volunteers willing to help out. We have raised more money for additional costumes in the last month, than we raised the prior 11 months combined. We have been featured on radio stations nationwide, and television stations worldwide. We have been approached about setting up our first franchise location in Louisiana, and we have our first volunteers signed up from Europe. I never imagined this little non-profit we started in January 2015, would touch so many people. Thank you, to everyone.
Over the past few days, we have been showcasing some of the costumes we built this Halloween. These have been for #GivingTuesday which is today, November 29th. This is to help promote this day as a day of giving to a charity. Please help us spread the message and let people know about Walkin' & Rollin' Costumes and what we do for kids. We have been running this campaign on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites.
STAR WARS COSTUME CONTEST
We have been promoting a Star Wars themed wheelchair costume contest where anyone can design a costume and submit it to win a prize. We have 2 age categories you don't have to figure out how everything attaches or works on the chair. It's merely a costume design contest. You can download the templates to get started as well as see all the details about the contest at: https://goo.gl/lP6ErQ I hope to see some of you entering the contest as well.
I look forward to 2017 and all of the new opportunities that will open up for Walkin' & Rollin' Costumes. I want to thank everyone for their continued support and help in sharing with others what we do. It's through everyone's excitement that we have been able to grow in the way that we have and the more kids we can help, the better. We have some "BIG" things planned for next year, so be sure and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the latest information.
If you would like to help make costumes for kids like Zaylee and Shane, please consider donating to Walkin' & Rollin' Costumes, or signing up as a volunteer at www.WalkinRollin.org.