A genetic condition prevents Cillian Jackson, 2, from walking. But thanks to bright students from his local high school, the Minnesota boy can ride around in style, CNN reports.
The story began when Cillian's parents learned about a program called Go Baby Go from Cillian's physical therapist. The program gives children with restricted mobility with modified toy cars to ride, but there wasn't a location near their home in Farmington. Motorized wheelchairs were hardly an option, costing over $1,000.
And so, the parents looked towards the Farmington High School robotics team to see if they could build a modified toy car for their son. Using plans from Go Baby Go, they turned a Power Wheels toy car into a mini vehicle that gives little Cillian much greater mobility. The high school students customized the joystick and seat for Cillian and rewired the car's interior electronics, robotics coach Spencer Elvebak said.
"Everything that we've been doing for robotics competitions ... was directly relatable to this challenge," he said. "The students did the programming, they did all the wiring, they did all the work."
The students even wrote their own code to allow the motor to respond to a custom, multidirectional joystick. The students also printed a custom joystick mount to make it easier for Cillian to reach.
Freshman Alex Treakle was part of the team of tech-savvy students, working on rewiring the car.
"I decided to get involved with the project because […] I wanted to help someone, and it felt really good in the end," he said. When he saw Cillian use the car for the first time, Treakle said, "The joy on his face really made my entire year."