Jimi Hendrix once said, “Music is magic, magic is life.” For Savannah, SOLIDWORKS’ newest Magic Wheelchair kiddo, life and music are both pretty magical.
For the fourth time, SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab are partnering with the non-profit Magic Wheelchair to create an epic costume for a kiddo in a wheelchair. This year, the build team is hitting the stage with a costume that really pops!
Savannah is a joyful, laid back (but feisty!) 11-year-old girl with beautiful brown eyes, an infectious smile, and a sweet spirit that shines through to everyone who meets her. She has an extremely rare condition called Ogden Syndrome, a randomly occurring genetic mutation that affects less than 100 people worldwide, and there are less than 50 children with her specific mutation.
Savannah has a complex medical history: she had a stroke at birth, which led to hydrocephalus. She has cortical cerebral visual impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and is non-verbal, non-ambulatory, and legally blind. Regardless of the challenges Savannah has faced, she’s fought tremendously hard to grow into the lovely young girl she is today, and the time the SOLIDWORKS build team has spent with her has been inspiring and fun.
Savannah’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and she happens to live in the Halloween capital of the world: Salem, Massachusetts. Savannah’s parents love making extravagant costumes and dressing up together as a family. When they originally got involved with Magic Wheelchair, they thought it would be fun to have Savannah be Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, and they could dress up along with her. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her parents made the costume themselves, with her father, Mark, dressed as The Tin Man and her mother, Lacey, dressed as The Scarecrow (featuring her dog, Georgia, as the cutest Cowardly Lion). As the pandemic ebbed and Lacey reconnected with Magic Wheelchair, she thought of a new costume.
Savannah enjoys adaptive sports and snuggling with Georgia (get it? Savannah and Georgia?), but one of her true loves is music. When she hears music she likes, she laughs, smiles, and dances. Savannah’s parents try to respect her age when they dress her and think of activities for her to do, and with Savannah officially becoming a tween, Lacey chose a costume that was musical and age-appropriate.
The build team met Savannah on a bright day in June. While Sal Lama and Albert Hernandez measured Savannah’s wheelchair, Chinloo Lama and I spoke with Lacey and Mark about what they wanted for a costume and for their reveal. They chose a costume that could really sing with Savannah and also include a large red button, similar to the one she uses for voice output.
To communicate with the world, Savannah hits a red button that can record audio. For example, when Savannah goes trick-or-treating, her parent’s record, “Trick or treat!” and then Savannah hits the button to ask for candy. She uses a variety of buttons to communicate at school, and Lacey made it clear to the build team that the button needs to be well-lit. Savannah is very attracted to light, and she has an easier time interacting with her voice output button when it shines bright in front of her.
The reveal day is set in early October—just in time for Halloween. The designers, engineers, fabricators, coders, and dressmakers on the build team have been working hard creating a costume so Savannah can be center stage. What do you think our team members are building this time? Leave us a comment and stay tuned!
SOLIDWORKS is working hard to make Savannah 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 Savannah’s costume build in its entirety, but we invite our readers to support Magic Wheelchair in Savannah’s name! If you visit her classy.org page, you can donate directly to Magic Wheelchair and help support them and all the lives they touch with their great work.
Read about our previous Magic Wheelchair builds here.