March 30, 2021 by Cathy Stack
The project’s inception began when Cillian’s father, Tyler, was brainstorming a way to help provide his son with the best childhood possible. Cillian’s genetic condition delays his physical and cognitive development, which makes him immobile. The couple knew a power wheelchair would help their son tremendously. However, the family could not afford the wheelchair’s cost of more than $20,000, which their insurance would not cover. That was when Cillian’s father got creative. He reached out to a robotics team at his old high school, seeking their help to create a similar type of vehicle for his son.
The high school team, Rogue Robotics, first heard about the unique project at one of their weekly team meetings. “You know what—that would be a very good idea,” one of the team members recalled saying about the prospect of taking on the challenging project. The team agreed to the mission without hesitation.
They began building the vehicle by modifying a Power Wheels toy, then adding a seat, a harness and a custom joystick using a 3D printer. Knowing exactly how the vehicle would be used motivated the team and gave them a renewed sense of purpose. Incredibly, it was built in less than a month. Cillian was now a little boy joyfully on the move. The child is now able to do things he would not be able to do otherwise. Cillian spends hours gleefully chasing the family’s two Corgis around in his new battery-powered vehicle.
“It has been really cool doing such an amazing project,” said one team member. “I think we won here more than we do at our competition,” added another.
The Jackson family returned to the school to visit the team that made their son’s mobility possible. The students beamed as they watched in awe while the boy demonstrated his driving skills for them. Team members were thrilled to see how their hard work resulted in such a positive impact in Cillian’s life.
The parents are grateful to the team for their toddler’s new mobility. Cillian’s mom, Krissy, could hardly believe her eyes. “They have helped so much. It really helps him explore like he has never been able to before,” she said. She laughed, watching him maneuver his new vehicle. His father said the chair’s benefits are immeasurable, as it has given Cillian a sense of control.
What first seemed like an insurmountable problem for the family was solved by a combination of customized technology and the young students’ tenacity and compassion. PassItOn and The Foundation for a Better Life believe the Rogue Robotics team members are young heroes for using their skills in such a good cause. Their actions demonstrate the value of ingenuity. Their hard work resulted in the improvement of the quality of a young child’s life. They have given back to Cillian a priceless, magical part of his childhood. Please help us honor these young heroes by sharing their inspiring story.
Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/VhpAsxyIsr8
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