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Wheelchairs transformed into larger-than-life Halloween costumes at Utah clinic

Posted at 10:34 AM, Oct 13, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A Halloween costume clinic is giving back the holiday to children who otherwise might not be able to experience it fully due to their physical limitations.

At Shriners Children's in Salt Lake City, cardboard, tools and craft supplies adorn the hospital as more than two dozen wheelchairs are transformed into larger-than-life costumes in just two days.

"In the past, parents have mentioned that things like well-fitting costumes and door-to-door trick-or-treating can be hard for differently-abled kids," explained Raegan Holbrook, Director of Marketing and Communications for Shriners. "This helps bring Halloween to them."

This year, 28 wheelchairs are being styled into things like a John Deere tractor, Salt Lake City police cruiser and Barbie's vintage Corvette.

Jena Beckstead's daughter had her wheelchair built into a mystical woodland fairy garden. She says the costume clinic helps with inclusion during the holiday.

"When we go trick-or-treating we pretty much stay down in the streets, we can't go up stairs," Beckstead explained. "Everyone wants to come see her wheelchair, comes right to her."

The little girl was all smiles as finishing touches including moss, glittery foam mushrooms and twinkling lights were fixed on her wheelchair.

"It's just one of our favorite things that happens every year," Beckstead reflected.

Spirit Halloween's program "Spirit of Children" sponsors the clinic and has raised over $1 million for the Shriners Children's Salt Lake City through donations.

Holbrook called the clinic "stressful in a good way," explaining that seeing a child's beaming face is worth the effort.

"The smiles on these kids faces when they see these costumes come to life," he said. "You can't put a price tag on, you can't buy these costumes in the store."

After the wheelchairs are decked out, the children will put on a parade for family and friends to show off their new rides and kick off the Halloween season.