By Trang Do and Andrew Kramer
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Children with special needs were in for a big treat Wednesday. They received custom-built motorized cars thanks to a local company and an area nonprofit.
But for the kids, it was about more than just going for a joy ride.
Guided by his parents, Gavin Baker, 2, of Fleetwood, uses a special wheelchair to help him get around. He was born with Osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease. Most everything he uses must be custom-fit for safety.
“He’s a lot smaller than a typical 2-year-old, because of his condition,” said Gavin’s mother Samantha. “So it’s hard to find things that fit him.”
Now he’ll be able to cruise on his own, with a motorized car retro-fitted just for him. A team of employees from paint and coatings company Axalta assembled the car outside of their Philadelphia headquarters in Logan Square.
“There isn’t anything better than being able to see the smiles on these kids’ faces, as we deliver the cars to them,” said Michael Cash, president of industrial coatings at Axalta.
Axalta teamed up with the University of Delaware’s GoBabyGo! program, which modifies motorized toy cars for children with special needs.
“(Gavin) struggles a lot and has a lot of medical attention and special needs, but he’s the happiest little boy we know,” said Jeremy Baker, Gavin’s father.
For little ones dealing with so much, the cars provide a way to play just like other kids can.
“These are the kinds of cars that the typical child would drive and ride,” Jeremy Baker said. “It takes the medical equipment out of the picture a little bit and allows him to focus on being a kid and playing with other kids his age.”
GoBabyGo! relies 100 percent on donations. Based in Delaware, the program works internationally to provide these special cars to kids.
In addition to Gavin, three other children received their own custom cars, including 15-month-old Avery.
“It’s wonderful,” said Avery’s mother, Casey Wineland. “Now she has something that’s safe for her that she can use to gain confidence.”
The cars were customized to fit each child’s therapy.
“She’ll kick with her left foot because that’s what we’re working on with her to strengthen her leg,” Wineland said. “It’ll make the car go.”
Once they were finished, Avery and the other kids got to go for a ride.
“Now that she’s figured out how to make it go, I had to hit the kill switch quite a few times,” her mother said.
“I didn’t know if he’d be able to grasp driving a car, but he nailed it,” adds Revell Martin, whose five-year-old son, Will, also got some custom wheels.
Normally Will and the others have trouble getting around, but that wasn’t the case on this day.
“You just want your kid to have all the chances as a typical kid,” says Martin. “To see something like this means a lot as a parent.”