Jacksonville architecture firm gives kids custom-made wheelchairs for Halloween

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Six Northeast Florida children struggling with serious health issues were surprised by some local architects on Thursday afternoon.

Architecture firm RS&H is giving them custom-made wheelchairs for Halloween. All children should be part of the design process.

One parent – whose child is given one of the wheelchairs – says it will be a big step towards making her daughter feel included.

At five years old, Pearl learns to walk. Her mother, Megan Laubacker, says it’s a milestone.

“We were told she would never walk, communicate or do any of the basic things,” Laubacker said.

But Pearl defies those odds. She was born with severe hydrocephalus and a condition called “VACTERL” association, which is when a person has three or more birth defects. They can include heart defects and limb abnormalities.

Pearl has already undergone nearly a dozen major surgeries in her short life. She loves to ride her horse, “Ringo”, for therapy.

Pearl loves riding her therapy horse “Ringo”.

Pearl is one of six children between the ages of 5 and 12 who will receive one of the custom-built wheelchairs.

“It will make Pearl feel so included,” Laubacker said.

Brandon Pourch is an architect for RS&H. This is the eighth year of this particular project and it’s a way for the company to give back to the community.

“Knowing that this is something I was trained for in my profession, but I can use those same skills to get back to those in need,” Pourch said.

Architects, lighting designers and sculptors taking part in this process for the first time hope to bring smiles to children’s faces.

Laubacker thinks it will be much more than that for her daughter Pearl.

“I just want her to be a kid,” Laubacker said. “I want her to have that feeling of joy and just be a kid. Not be in the hospital, not be at a doctor’s office. Just be able to have fun and just be one of the others.

The big reveal is set to take place at RS&H headquarters on Deerwood Park Boulevard beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s always an amazing feeling,” Pourch said of seeing the children’s reactions when they receive the wheelchairs. “That emotion, that gratitude that comes from children and families, just knowing that we can help them feel a little more normal for the Halloween season.”

Local children receive custom-made wheelchairs for Halloween

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