Conner Goldhammer, 7, had dreamed of driving his very own Power Wheels. But his brittle bone disease – a disorder causing fragile, easily broken bones – made this everyday child’s play too risky.
On Monday, though, Conner’s dream finally came true. Thanks to a collaboration of Fort Mill Boys and Girls Club and Chelsea and Savannah Art Studio, Conner zoomed around the club’s Trunk or Treat at Springfield Elementary School in his sporty, green Lamborghini.
For the second year, the art studio partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to create Halloween costumes for children with special needs through a nonprofit called Magic Wheelchair.
“The great thing about the Magic Wheelchair project is it’s a costume for a kid who otherwise probably wouldn’t be in a costume going out trick or treating,” Boys and Girls Club of York County executive director Grace Lewis said.
“It’s a way for them to put something on in a big and magnificent way. The part that our kids play in it is they get to help decorate and be a part of building this Magic Wheelchair costume for one of their peers.”
Studio co-owner Tracey Hartzog thinks the project impacts the club members as much as the special needs children. She said it teaches them empathy.
“Empathy is learned, you do not have natural empathy,” she said. “(The club members) learn about having a disability and working with kids with disabilities, to be empathetic toward them.”
Tega Cay residents Jim and Heather Harper of Harper Corporation are advocates of the arts and education and big believers in collaboration. Jim said they chose to sponsor the project because it helps break down social barriers among children.
“The beauty about what this does is it allows these kids to cross boundaries in working with kids with special needs and some appreciation takes place,” he said. “For kids at this age – that’s a cool thing.”
And for the special needs child, the project turns their wheelchair into pure magic.
“We live for moments like this,” Conner’s mother Denise Goldhammer said.
“For Conner to not be focusing on the pain and his disability, but looking forward to something that makes him so happy – to me, is amazing.”
Stephanie Jadrnicek: firstname.lastname@example.org