The complex costumes that Walkin’ and Rollin’ creates will make any wheelchair user have the coolest costume in the neighborhood.
>By Courtney Verrill
Reese Davis has been a wheelchair user since the age of three. After cancerous tumors crushed his spinal cord at birth, his family learned he would need a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was a child with a big imagination, and his father, Lon Davis, wanted to help make his creative mind come to life. Reese was a big fan of the Disney Pixar movie “Wall-E” and decided that he wanted to dress up as the cartoon robot for his first Halloween in a wheelchair.
“I knew I couldn’t buy a costume that would work with his wheelchair,” Lon says. “But I thought that having a wheelchair would actually work out really well for a Wall-E costume if I build around the chair.”
That idea led to their first hand-made wheelchair costume. Lon used an old Dell computer box and began constructing the robot costume and Reese proudly wheeled around his school dressed as the famous Wall-E. Lon then noticed a big change in the children around him.
“Something happened that I didn’t expect,” Lon says. “The kids at his school suddenly started looking at him differently. He was no longer the only kid in the class with a wheelchair. He was the kid with the coolest costume.”
Throughout the years of crazy costumes, Lon started sharing pictures their wheelchair costume creations on social media. Parents started contacting Lon about making costumes for their children with spinal-cord injuries and not long after, Walkin’ and Rollin’ Costumes started.
Walkin’ and Rollin’ Costumes is an organization that provides wheelchair users costumes free of charge.
“As a parent of a child in a wheelchair, we know first-hand that it’s very expensive,” Lon says. “With all the equipment to buy, medical procedures and repairs to the equipment, we knew that asking for a large sum of money for these costumes – even just for supplies – would put these costumes way out of budget for most families.”
The costumes they make take about six to ten weeks depending on how complex it is. Supplies for one costume can cost up to $250, and they chose to keep the costumes free of charge for families, which led them to start a Kickstarter campaign to try and raise $1,000 so they could make five costumes for the 2015 Halloween season. In just two days, the campaign met their goal, and by the end of the month they had raised $3,000. With the money, they were able to make 11 costumes for that season and sent them to kids all over the nation.
After that season, Lon decided to open up online donations so they could continue making costumes for children. This year, they have made nine costumes that include a Star Wars Tie Interdictor, an Amelia Earhart plane, an ambulance, the “Back to the Future” DeLorean – Lon’s personal favorite – and more.
Their newest Ant-Man costume has received the most attention because it is the first costume they built with moving parts.
“The child dresses as Ant-Man, and the wheelchair is turned into Antony, the ant that Ant-Man rides in the movie,” Lon says. “Each leg of the ant is designed to move independently and the wheels of the wheelchair go around causing the entire costume to look like it’s walking. There are no motors, or batteries or anything like that – it’s all based on a design we created involving wheel covers and roller blade wheels.”
Walkin’ and Rollin’ costumes is very important to Lon and his family because it helps Reese express himself.
“Halloween is a time when you can dress up as anything and be anyone you want,” Lon says. “As my son Reese pointed out to me, ‘my wheelchair is part of me, so when I dress up for Halloween, I need all of me to dress up. That includes my wheelchair.’”
Lon’s plans for the future are to make as many costumes for children that incorporate their wheelchairs as he can. He has volunteers that help so they can pair volunteers from the same area the child is located to help build the costume. He wants to continue building and expanding.
Walkin’ and Rollin’ Costumes is already taking costume requests for the 2018 season and is always taking donations.