On Tuesday, trick-or-treaters across the country will go door to door in their Halloween best, collecting candies and snacks from neighbors.
For five children in Northeast Florida, their costumes may earn them a few extra treats.
In the days leading up to Halloween, RS&H associates built and presented custom, wheelchair-fitting costumes to five children of the Independent Living Resource Center.
Allie, 8, became a country singer as her chair transformed into a stage, complete with a curtain, light show, speaker, guitar, and microphone. Tatiana, 9, watched as her chair was fitted with a sleigh straight out of Frozen. Gianna, 6, reached out and touched the different textures that made up her new barn and farm. Levi, 4, put his head down and hugged the John Deere tractor now connecting to the front of his chair.
And then there was 4-year-old Timothy, who showed up to the RS&H office Monday in a Mickey Mouse racing uniform. He would soon have his ride.
“This is a big one,” said Beth, the Independent Living Resource Center’s development director. “It’s the highlight of our year. We’re so grateful for (RS&H) to create this opportunity for five great families and five beautiful kids.”
Jacksonville’s ILRC aims to empower people with disabilities to live independent, self-empowered lives. The group serves five counties in Northeast Florida and helps about 1,300 individuals every year set and achieve their goals for independence.
The ILRC caught the interest of RS&H associates Brandon Pourch and David Mantia in 2015 after Pourch sought to put his architect skills to work for children with disabilities. This is the third Halloween that Mantia, Pourch, and a group of a dozen RS&H associates have built costumes.
“It’s great to give back, and it’s really rewarding to use our talents to do so,” Pourch said. “I know it means a lot to our team to see the smiles on the kids’ faces.”
On Monday, Timothy’s face lit up as Mantia and Pourch rolled out his own Mickey Mouse Roadster. The red and yellow hot rod featured specialty engine headers, ears that could turn for extra downforce and tires that actually spun. Timothy’s 5-year-old brother James couldn’t wait to push him around.
“Are you ready to go?” James asked. “Yeah!” Timothy said.
Minutes later, they were racing around the sidewalks outside, Timothy at the wheel, pointing, waving, and laughing.