When a 2-year-old Minnesota boy needed a costly power wheelchair, a high school robotics team put its skills to work.
Instead of racking up competition points, Farmington High School students watched Cillian Jackson traverse the classroom last week in a device that they hand-built from a Power Wheels riding toy, local station KARE reported.
“These kids took time out of their busy schedules to do this for our son,” Cillian’s mother, Krissy Jackson, told KARE. “We’re so grateful.”
Cillian has a genetic condition that makes mobility difficult, his father Tyler Jackson told KARE, adding that the symptoms are similar to cerebral palsy.
After determining that the family couldn’t afford a wheelchair and that their insurance didn’t cover the cost, Tyler Jackson contacted the robotics team at his former high school, KARE reported.
Coach Spencer Elvebak told the station his students agreed to help without hesitation. The students replaced the toy’s electrical components, mounted a seat from a bicycle carrier and designed a joystick with a 3D printer, KARE reported. The teenagers spent a few weeks building it, according to a post on the team’s Facebook page.
A program at the University of Delaware designing mobility devices for disabled children gave technical assistance, but KARE reported the students used skills from building competition robots.
“Instead of completing a task, we’re helping change someone’s life,” team member Drew Eisenzimmer told KARE.
The Jackson family visited the students last week, KARE reported, four months after the team gave the wheelchair to the boy. He moved around the classroom in it as the students smiled and waved.
“This really helps him explore like he’s never been able to do before,” Krissy Jackson told KARE.
A similar wheelchair can cost up to $20,000, CBS News reported.