Robotics teams build customized car for baby with limited mobility

Robotics teams build customized car for baby with limited mobility

CHARLEVOIX COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- High school robotics teams from across northern Michigan came together Saturday to help make a difference in the life of a disabled child.

“Jeremiah was born with spina bifida,” said Danielle Nelson, Jeremiah’s mom. “So he is limited in his movement and legs and some on his right side as well. So he's not able to crawl or walk around or anything like that.”

Until Saturday – All thanks to the high school students from Char-EM ISD, Petoskey Paladins and Central Lake High School robotics teams.

“As soon as I met him I knew that this was going to be great and I can't wait to see this little kid with this car,” said Paige Smith, Petoskey Paladins robotics team member.

Students like Paige Smith volunteered their Saturday to partner with Go Baby Go, a program that rebuilds motorized cars designed specifically for children with disabilities. Children just like Jeremiah.

“We took out the seat and the steering wheel that it came with and we replaced it with one that he can hold, since he has really good mobility with his left hand,” said Smith. “He will be able to steer it with his left hand and we have a button for him as the accelerator instead of petals. We modified the seat, so that it will have a harnesses for him to sit up straight and the backrest for him so that he will be comfortable.”

Students spent weeks preparing for the day of Jeremiah’s car build and spent more than four hours to deconstruct and rebuild the modified car.

“We aren’t just following a template we did everything for this car specifically with him in mind,” said Smith.

Robotics team mentor Dave Hickman says his team builds robots all of the time, but this project was unlike anything they have ever done.

“You're not just building a robot. This is actually impacting somebody's life and it's just a feeling you can't replace," said Hickman. “This is not only helping the parents, but this child is actually going to have the freedom that we all take for granted. To just move around as he wants and I don't know how to put that into words without tearing up to be honest."

“It's overwhelming. I came in here this morning not really knowing what to expect,” said Stacy Nelson, Jeremiah’s dad. “To see close to 30 people from all over northern Michigan that are willing to sacrifice a Saturday and take time out of their lives and do this for my kid. It warms my heart to know that we are part of this community, so we are so thankful.”

The students from Char-EM ISD, Petoskey Paladins and Central Lake robotics teams have already started talking about ways to build Jeremiahs next car to help him get around easier as he grows.

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