Ben and his current costume design
Rev up your engines, folks, the SOLIDWORKS Magic Wheelchair Build Team is back at it again! SOLIDWORKS employees are putting the rubber to the road and building a new, fantastically epic costume for an amazing kiddo: Ben!
Ben is one spunky 9-year-old! Ben was born with a condition called lissencephaly, also known as smooth brain, a rare brain disorder that impairs his cognitive ability and mobility. Ben has grown into a sweet, excitable boy who’s curious about everything, especially trucks, cars, and, most of all, motorcycles!
Ben comes from a motorcycle family. Before he was born, his uncle bought him an Indian Motorcycle so they could ride together. Because of Ben’s condition, he will not have the ability to drive a vehicle or motorcycle, so his uncle is in the process of building him a sidecar. When Ben’s caretaker, Amanda, discovered Magic Wheelchair, she also found a way for uncle and nephew to ride together after all!
Amanda (left), Ben, and Amanda’s friend meeting Chinloo and the build team
SOLIDWORKS met with Ben and Amanda in September. Amanda’s mother ran a daycare and she started taking care of Ben when he was three months old. After discovering that Ben needed special care, Amanda’s mother became a dedicated, family specific caretaker for Ben, and Amanda grew up taking care of him. Now that Amanda is in college, she helps take care of Ben on weekends, going on trips to museums and parks with friends. Members of the SOLIDWORKS build team met the Amanda, Ben, Amanda’s mother, and a friend at Amanda’s house in Western Massachusetts.
While SOLIDWORKS User Experience Design Director Chinloo Lama chatted with Amanda and Ben, Product Definition Senior Manager Annie Cheung and Product Definition Director Sal Lama examined Ben’s wheelchair. Ben doesn’t use his wheelchair all the time—he can crawl on his own and as long as someone is holding him by the armpits, he can stand and walk. Amanda and her friends often take him to museums and parks and help him walk around. Most of his mobility is in his upper body, so when he’s outside he uses his wheelchair to get around. While he can move the wheels on his own, Ben is liable to streak off and investigate something that excites his curiosity, so Amanda pushes and maneuvers him while he’s in his wheelchair.
Ben’s costume inspiration. Left: Akira bike. Middle: Tron light cycle. Right: an Indian Motorcycle
Chinloo used her iPad and pulled up pictures of different motorcycles, both real and from movies and video games, to get an idea of what designs Ben liked. While Ben isn’t totally verbal, he can understand what people around him are saying, and he swiped through the pictures like a pro. He was most excited about images of the motorcycle from Akira and the lights on the light cycle from Tron. Once he saw an Indian motorcycle, like the kind his uncle has, he grew very excited—they’re his favorite, after all! So the team decided his costume will be an original design, a mash up of the Akira bike, the Tron bike, with an Indian Motorcycle-inspired fork and handlebars. There will be lights, sounds, and buttons galore for Ben to play with while he cruises along in his own motorcycle.
We’ll have more updates on the build’s progress, including a clash of CAD models and details about the costume’s reveal. Amanda and Ben’s family wants this costume reveal to be a surprise for both Ben and his uncle, and SOLIDWORKS is determined to deliver!
Ben giving Sal a high-five
SOLIDWORKS is working hard to make Ben the most incredible costume ever and help the non-profit Magic Wheelchair achieve its goal of providing kids in wheelchairs with epic costumes. SOLIDWORKS is funding Ben’s costume build in its entirety, but we invite all our readers to support Magic Wheelchair in Ben’s name! If you visit his classy.org page, you can donate directly to Magic Wheelchair and help support them and all the lives they touch with their great work. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting build and get your engines revved for more motorcycle madness!
SOLIDWORKS is partnering with the Magic Wheelchair to create an over-the-top costume for a child in a wheelchair. According to their mission statement, “Magic Wheelchair builds epic costumes for kiddos in wheelchairs — at no cost to families.” Motorcycle Madness is an ongoing series dedicated to updating our readers on the current project’s progress.
Read about our previous build, Keep on (Monster) Truckin’ with Jonah here.