Among the myriad Halloween trick-or-treaters in Elgin, one 12-year-old boy showed off a costume that transformed his wheelchair into an uber-cool racing kart, just like the one in his favorite video game.
Kimball Middle School seventh-grader Iker Lagunas, who has muscular dystrophy, was the recipient of the costume from the nonprofit Magic Wheelchair. The organization partners with volunteers to outfit kids in costumes that incorporate their wheelchairs.
Iker's costume was made by a team from DePaul University in Chicago. It included a gold frame, attached to Iker's wheelchair, in the shape of the gold kart from the video game "Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" and a Yoshi costume for Iker. Yoshi, a dinosaur, is Mario's best friend.
"It's really neat, and bigger than I thought it would be," Iker said Tuesday, just before he set off trick-or-treating with his parents, three younger siblings and other kids from the community.
DePaul instructor LeAnne Wagner worked on the project with her husband, Zack, and seven students who volunteered. Wagner met Iker about two months ago to discuss his costume and take measurements.
"He said he plays the video game with his siblings all the time," she said. "He was pretty adamant that's what he wanted."
Iker didn't want any customization, like his name on the side of the kart, so they settled for his name on the license plate and some extra lights, she said. "He's very much a purist," Wagner said. "He very much wanted it to be like the game."
Oregon-based Magic Wheelchair was created in 2015 by Ryan and Lana Weimer, who have three children who were born with spinal muscular atrophy and use wheelchairs. Families and volunteers submit applications to the nonprofit, which matches them based on proximity and skill, said Christine Getman, development director for Magic Wheelchair.
Some kids are very specific about their vision, while others are more vague, she said. The company takes applications year-round and has outfitted 75 children to date.
"They are the driving forces," Getman said. "They tell us what they want. It's their imagination. It's their vision."
Iker's mother, Analelly Garcia, said she found out about Magic Wheelchair on Facebook.
"I'm emotional and happy," Garcia said. "I'm glad that there are organizations that give a chance to kids with special needs."
Wagner said the project was a great learning experience. "We were really excited to see his reaction to all of this," she said. "The students are excited to do something good for the community."
DePaul graduate student Azka Asif said she loved working on the project.
"It's been really cool to see all the different things that they (Magic Wheelchair) do, the different outcomes," she said. "I think it's a really neat organization where designers and people that are creative can give back their skills to help make a difference in a kid's life. "