Since 2018, SOLIDWORKS has partnered with Magic Wheelchair, a non-profit organization dedicated to building epic costumes for kiddos in wheelchairs, at no cost to families. Magic Wheelchair is part of 3DEXPERIENCE Lab and is supported by Dassault Systemes Foundation. Our team of talented designers, engineers, artists, and beyond worked together to build a massive, to-scale replica of a monster truck for Jonah, and a totally custom motorcycle for Ben. Now the build team is back, facing their biggest design challenge yet: a costume fit for a princess!
Team leaders Chinloo and Sal Lama reading Freyja’s Magic Wheelchair profile at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020
The SOLIDWORKS Magic Wheelchair build team is working with Freyja, a smart, sassy, adorable, and pink-haired nine-year-old with a condition called Pontocerebellar hypoplasia that requires her to use a wheelchair, and sometimes a walker. SOLIDWORKS was introduced to Freyja back in 2020 at 3DEXPERIENCE World in Nashville, and the team was all set to work on her costume. Then the pandemic hit, and everything had to be put on hold; for the build team, for Freyja’s family, for the entire world.
But on a scorching hot day in June 2021, the project was officially back in business when local build team members visited Freyja at her home. The process of making a princess began!
Freyja, her mother Aimee, and team leader Annie Cheung looking at previous Magic Wheelchair builds
Lots of kids want to be princesses: some of them want to look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, or Moana, or Cinderella, or Princess Zelda from the video games. Freyja is well versed in princess lore (and video game lore, and cartoon lore, and various YouTube channels’ lore), but she doesn’t want a recreation of an already existing princess: she wants to be her own princess, Princess Freyja. And the build team is excited to deliver.
While 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Roles Portfolio Engineering Director Sal Lama and SOLIDWORKS User Success Engineering Manager David Law measured and documented the dimensions of Freyja’s wheelchair, SOLIDWORKS Roles Portfolio Engineering Senior Manager and Magic Wheelchair project leader Annie Cheung and I sat with Freyja and her parents to discuss costume ideas. And Freyja was full of ideas.
Annie, John, Aimee, and Freyja discussing costume ideas
Pink! Cats! Dragonflies! Birds! Rainbows! Sparkles! Stars! Glitter! Video games! Beautiful castles (Anna’s castle from Frozen, to be exact)! Lights! Dresses! Tiaras! Music! The list goes on. Freyja and her mother, Aimee, went over costume ideas the night before, and they spent a nice hour in their air conditioned living room filling in us in while Aimee fed baby birds (a task Freyja dearly wanted to help with). Freyja’s dad John joined in as well, encouraging Freyja to talk about her likes, wants, and passions.
Freyja and Aimee feeding baby birds
By the end of the hour, we were bubbling with ideas. Before even sharing with the larger team, the four local team build team members stood in the Freyja’s driveway, discussing possible designs. There was a visceral excitement, both from the build team and Freyja’s family when we parted ways that day, and the excitement only grew when Sal, David, Annie, and I met with the much larger team virtually during the week.
So the task has been set! The SOLIDWORKS Magic Wheelchair Build is making something they’ve never made before: a costume that is fit for a princess! As the weeks go by and the design and details move forward, we’ll be providing more details (while still keeping the final design a secret from Freyja and her family) until the big reveal.
The build team is larger this year, and spread out across the country. Using the power of the cloud and the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, designers, engineers, artists, and beyond will work together to build one royal costume. Want to see their progress and get connected with other Magic Wheelchair supporters? Join the Magic Wheelchair community today! And stay tuned to find out how the build teams comes together to turn a fabulous girl into a princess!
SOLIDWORKS is working hard to make Freyja the most incredible costume ever and help the non-profit Magic Wheelchair achieve its goal of providing kids in wheelchairs with epic costumes and experiences. SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab are funding Freyja’s costume build in its entirety, but we invite our readers to support Magic Wheelchair in Freyja’s name! If you visit her classy.org page, you can donate directly to Magic Wheelchair and help support them all the lives they touch with their great work.
Freyja is no stranger to magic—every year she has a magical time in the mountains at Double H Ranch, a camp in the Adirondacks for children with serious medical conditions. Like Magic Wheelchair, Double H Ranch promotes inclusion. Inclusion is important to Freyja and her family, and you can see how happy the camp makes her in her bright smile at the top of their webpage. We encourage you to discover Double H Ranch and donate to them as well, to help kids like Freyja experience the fun that can be had at summer camp!
Read about our previous Magic Wheelchair builds here.