Beyond Their Wildest Dreams (Oregon dad Ryan Weimer builds extraordinary Halloween costumes for kids in wheelchairs)

(The following is excerpted from Family Circle, October 2016, by Paula Chin) Ryan Weimer wanted a very special Halloween for his son Keaton. It was 2008, the first year that the 3-year-old-who had been diagnosed as an infant with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disorder that progressively weakens the voluntary muscles-would be dressing up in a costume since he’d started using a power wheelchair. “When my wife, Lana, and I asked Keaton what he wanted to be, he told us, ‘A pirate!'” An eye patch and a puffy shirt wouldn’t do. Ryan wanted to build a wooden pirate ship that would fit over Keaton’s wheelchair. “I’d never seen his eyes get so big,” Ryan says. “He went trick-or-treating and was a superstar. Usually people can’t look past the wheelchair, but that night people saw Keaton the way we do.” Ryan founded the nonprofit Magic Wheelchair in 2014. A Kickstarter campaign raised $25,000, enough to build costumes for seven other lucky kids. Each costume is a kid’s fantasy come true. Hunter Powers, a 15-year-old in Eugene, Oregon, with spina bifida, a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord, received a custom-built Quinjet, the high-tech transport from TV’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Hunter was so happy, he was in shock,” says his mom, Ginger Kanwischer. Magic Wheelchair now has chapters in 10 states, and the goal is to make 25 costumes this Halloween. “If Ryan’s going to have a consuming passion, this one is ideal,” says Lana. “He’s always thinking about making another kid’s dream come true.” For more information or to donate, visit magicwheelchair.org.