Workers ‘trick out’ motorized cars for kids with disabilities

Ottawa County

ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Employees from four West Michigan companies spent Friday afternoon team building, and at the end of the day, four kids left with new wheels.

The atmosphere inside the conference room at Herman Miller in Zeeland was like a party.

“It doesn’t look like a robot. It’s something like (“Cars” movie character) Mater, their friend,” Vinu Rajendran, director of operations for Go Baby Go, explained their project.

Go Baby Go takes motorized kid-sized cars and trucks and makes them much more, giving the gift of movement to kids who otherwise have to rely on others to get around.

“It’s tricked out. Using something to help them get mobile on their choice,” Rajendran said.

Teams from Axalta, Herman Miller, Nutech and Repcolite Paints worked to transform the off-the-shelf motorized toys into personalized vehicles for each kid.

“They’ve kind of taken it on their own to build not something just fun, but functional. They’ve modified it,” said Katherine Plaske, a Muskegon mother of three whose 15-month-old son Emerson was born with spina bifida.

Kids with mobility issues ride around in modified motorized vehicles at the Go Baby Go event at Herman Miller in Zeeland. (Feb. 21, 2020)

Kids who are used to waiting to be pushed in a wheelchair are now feeling the need for speed.

“The kids in the cars, well, we thought they’d be a little nervous but they learn real fast and they want to drive them,” Dave Grassmid, an employee at Herman Miller, said.

For these kids, it’s not just a toy: it’s teamwork, it’s freedom, it’s community.

“As we’ve been able to come upon these different opportunities with Emerson, I think the one thing that has stood out most to us is people’s hearts, their kindness,” Plaske said.

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