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We Turned Our Son’s Wheelchair Into a John Deere Tractor for Halloween

Our 1-year-old son, Calvin, is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair to get around (and get into trouble). We decided to incorporate his wheelchair into his Halloween costume because he likes candy as much as any toddler and needs a way to get to the front door! Using just a cardboard box, some spray paint and yellow duct tape, we transformed Calvin’s wheelchair into a John Deere tractor that is the envy of every trick-or-treater.

After spending a magical week on Grandpa’s farm, it became clear Calvin needed to be a farmer for Halloween. And what’s a farmer without his trusty tractor?

Using 2 cardboard boxes, 2 paper plates, some extra tires from our stroller, a $2 plastic plate from Target, spray paint, duct tape, some nuts and bolts and scraps of wood, we created tractor that has quickly become Calvin’s most prized possession.

We cut the big tires so they popped perfectly under his hand rails — no attaching necessary, and they easily pop in and out in case it rains, or we want to go somewhere without giant tractor tires. And we attached the paper plates to the cardboard using a large bolt, mostly for cosmetic purposes, likewise with the small tires.

The yellow and black are duct tape, and the exhaust pipe is a paper towel roll with the bottom of a Sonic cup on top, all wrapped in duct tape.

We attached the box to the wheelchair by first attaching the box to a thin piece of wood with drywall screws. We then attached the whole contraption to the wheelchair with two U-bolts. For the front tires, my husband, Nate, drilled two holes into a block of wood, then we popped the tires off our stroller and into the block and attached that to the box with a long, thin piece of wood. The whole front easily comes off, just in case Calvin needs to make a quick getaway (or we want to go somewhere without a giant tractor attached).

The steering wheel is a plastic plate with a hole drill in the middle; it’s attached with a long bolt. We made sure it spins, and Calvin loves it. The last part was wrapping the visible orange frame with duct tape (folded over so no sticky part actually touches the chair.) It was almost too cute to behold.

Calvin was pretty excited the first time he saw it all put together. Dad showed him how to drive it, and it wasn’t long before he took off.

We wanted to make his costume functional — it’s a little more difficult to turn, but other than that, he can navigate around in his chair with no problem. I thought he would crash and smash it all in about five seconds, but he’s been surprisingly aware and careful with the extra two feet of vehicle in front of him.

When our 3-year-old neighbor saw it, he said, “Wow Mom, look at that cool tractor!” Pretty much all the little boys are jealous.

Sometimes other kids are afraid or unsure of Calvin’s wheelchair, but when it’s decked out in an awesome costume, they’re able to see Calvin as he really is — just a normal kid who uses a wheelchair instead of legs and is super excited for all things Halloween.

He’s got the farmer’s wave down… He looks just like his grandpa and great-grandpa!

We used mostly what we had lying around, and the whole thing took only a few hours and about $20.

We have one happy farmer, and a Halloween win!

Follow this journey on Life Is a Bowl of Candy.