There are many holiday traditions for our family that have had to be severely adapted or done away with. Halloween is included, for a variety of reasons. Last year we made great strides with Bridger participating by passing out candy to trick-or-treat’ers while we held him on our front porch. I use the word “passing out” loosely as it was more like him hysterically chucking candy at children when they approached using his bionic throwing powers. Some children found that fun, others were a little scared. Bridger thought it was the best time of his life. I smile at the memory of watching children have to pick up their candy that was thrown at them from our walkway.
In 2012, we decided to try and take it a step further. Sensory issues in the past had prevented Bridger from donning a costume, but cute Facebook photos circulating around of adorable costumes incorporating a wheelchair made it too irresistible not to try.
Armed with the picture of a wheelchair-turned-bulldozer, I went to Home Depot to collect pvc pipe pieces and joints, boxes and paint to create a very homemade bulldozer. A kind man in plumbing was sweetly helping me with the different parts I would need. Another Home Depot employee saw my efforts and took me to the front desk to the general manager. He looked at my picture and started calling for some others to “get up here immediately!” Before I knew it a team of builders was hovering over the picture speaking “construction speak”.
They then paused to look up at me and say, “Ma’am, we got it from here, you just bring your son in for a fitting. Boys, I want this to look professional!” I was stunned. As I left the store I started crying. Who cries at Home Depot?!? I was just so touched by the simple act of love that has an effect far-reaching beyond its original efforts.
I brought Bridger back and soon the men were on their hands and knees around him trying to measure every nook and cranny of the wheelchair as Bridger patted their backs and kissed their heads. I brought my other children along to see this wonderful act of service that people would do for pure strangers because of the goodness of their hearts. They were so excited at the thought of their brother being in costume and trick-or-treating right along side of them.
When we came in to pick up the dozer, employees were lined up in the front of the store to present an apron signed by each employee and his very own hard hat that lights up. They assembled the costume on Bridger (which included headlights on the overhead canopy and a flashing tail light, wired to a battery pack that attached under his chair) and lined us up for a group photo [or 20]. At this point we had attracted quite a Saturday afternoon audience. They snapped the pictures while I tried to hold an eager-to-get-moving Bridger in place.
After the photo shoot, I let go of Bridger and off the bulldozer went to a roar of applause from customers and employees. Following behind him, I again became the tenderhearted fool that starts crying in a home improvement store. I turned around to see that I wasn’t the only tenderhearted fool. A couple customers also shared my tears.
Hopefully, beyond my expressions of gratitude, these men and women know how much this means to me, our family, and others in the special needs community. It gives us hope that there are good people with good hearts out there, that can stop in their ‘busyness’ and, giving through the talents that they have, bring a lot of love to a family, especially to a little boy, who just wants to be “one of the kids” . . . if only for brief moment . . . on Halloween. And he was.
Click on Cindy’s name above to read the background on her son’s challenges