‘Once in a lifetime chance’: High schoolers create adaptive wheelchair costume for elementary school student

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Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 8:40 PM EDT
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FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Gavin Riddle received a surprise last week when the Floyd County School District delivered his Halloween costume to the South Floyd Elementary School.

Riddle, a sixth grader at the school, has spent years dressing up as Spider Man for Halloween. But, this year, the Raider will raid candy bowls with a new look- thanks to the students in the Floyd County School of Innovation’s engineering program.

“It made me feel special,” Gavin said. “It’s a once in a lifetime chance.”

The candy lover, who relies on a wheelchair for mobility, was presented with an adaptive costume to expand his Halloween night- by transforming him into the Dark Knight.

“I was expecting something to go around his wheelchair, maybe,” said Gavin’s dad, Wendle Riddle. “But seeing it this big, with lights and everything on it, it’s just awesome.”

The bat mobile, with a personalized license plate, was constructed by found and donated materials, using the skills the students learn in class every day.

“Being able to look at engineering and apply this to a real world problem is really awesome,” said District Digital Learning Coach Kelsey Tackett. “Students had to build th structure, plan it, and create it to certain dimensions. And they wanted to provide an experience for a student in our county who might not have had a Halloween costume that fit all of their different needs.”

The students involved in the building of the structure (Caidance Mullins, Reece Hamilton, John Fraley, Lincoln Slone, Kendyll Hall, Gracie McDavid, Adam Artrip, and Kaden Lewis) say it was a blessing to give Riddle something special this season.

“When we first started, it was actually really difficult for us,” Artrip said. “The more we worked together, we realized we’re all talented in different things.”

He said they each used their strengths to make the bat mobile a reality, with the support of many people behind them. The group agreed that, though it was a lot of work, it was more than worth it because of the result.

“It was difficult sometimes, but it was really fun just to be able to unleash this creativeness,” said McDavid. “And know you’re doing this for a kid, it’s going to be amazing, but you’re also learning.”

The students wanted to supply Gavin with a memorable season, as he reaches an age where trick-or-treating may soon be in the rearview.

“When we saw him smile the way he did, we felt amazing. We felt like we made a change,” said Artrip.

Gavin said the gift was something he will never forget and he hopes it will inspire other areas to do something similar for those who require mobility assistance, lighting up their lives the way his has been.

“I’m really glad they did it for me and everything. But I believe there’s another student somewhere out there that could also enjoy this,” Gavin said.

He said the students who gifted him with the adaptive costume are more talented and appreciated than they know.

“Seeing him get in it and smile, and give us the thumbs-up, was just the most rewarding thing that could have come from it,” said Hall.