For the students, it was priceless "to see the smile on his face and to know that I was able to help give him that connection with his child."
When Jeremy King found out that he was going to be a father, he was excited to welcome the baby but wondered how he would do the simple things like taking his son out for a stroll. Ever since he underwent surgery for brain tumor, Jeremy has experienced physical challenges and uses a wheelchair because his balance was affected. "While he can walk, he can't do so safely carrying a child," his wife, Chelsie King, told Good Morning America. "So we jumped into, 'OK, what do we need in order for him to parent safely?' and honestly, not a whole lot came up -- there's just really not a ton of resources out there for disabled parents."
"One of the things that we really couldn’t find was a way to enjoy walks with our son," Chelsie said, according to NBC Washington.
Despite sieving through the internet for options, they came out with nothing helpful. "We really just wanted a way to have walks as a family and for him to be able to do everything that a parent without physical disabilities does," Chelsie added. Eventually, Chelsie decided to approach the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, and pitch the idea of creating something for Jeremy to the school’s Innovation and Technology Lab, or BITlab.
One of the classes—Making for Social Good—is headed by Matt Zigler and pushes students to innovate for social good. Jeremy's requirement "seemed like sort of the perfect challenge for this class. One, it was great to have it as a challenge, but two, it was great that it was somebody in our community that could benefit from it," Zigler said.
A group of 10 students from the class came together to help Jeremy and interacted with him to understand exactly what he needed. Finally, they came out with the WheeStroll, which has now changed Jeremy's life as a father.
"The first time we were able to take it out into our neighborhood just the three of us, it was amazing," Chelsie said. "So, it was a match made in heaven with what we needed and with what Matt does in his classes."
After creating the life-changing device for Jeremy, the high school students also took home two international awards for the unique wheelchair. They were recognized for the "Best Inspirational Story" and "Best Showcase of Iterative Design" for the 14-18 age group in the competition.
In addition to the awards, the high school students also have the priceless reward of seeing the WheeStroll fill Jeremy's life with joy. "To see the smile on his face and to know that I was able to help give him that connection with his child that he wouldn’t be able to have because of his disabilities," said Benjamin Gordon, one of the high schoolers.
"It definitely made me feel for them and it kind of made me mad because something like this should be made already and we shouldn’t be the one—high schoolers—making these designs," said Jewel Walker, a freshman from the school.
While speaking to Good Morning America, Jeremy spoke about how much he values what the high school students designed and made for him. "Using it was overwhelming because I never thought I would be able to do something like this with our son," Jeremy said. "Most people can go out on a walk with their family but that is really difficult for me -- most people take that for granted."
Cover image source: Bullis School/Facebook