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Halloween for everyone: Mary Free Bed's annual parade showcases patients in custom costumes

The parade featured more than 30 custom-built Halloween chairs fitted over wheelchairs.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Parents of children with special needs often say their kids can feel left out of typical kid activities, especially Halloween. 

But each year, Mary Free Bed organizes a very special event to combat those feelings: the Halloween Heroes Parade. The rehabilitation hospital put on the 4th annual event Saturday, Oct. 26 and featured more than 30 custom-built wheelchair costumes for current and former patients.

The kids thought up ideas for their costumes weeks ago and then dozens of volunteers, including Mary Free Bed Guild members, staff, Owen-Ames-Kimball construction engineers, Grand Valley State University engineering students and Grand Rapids Police Department officers worked together to create them. The kids saw their costumes for the first time Saturday afternoon and then, to top it off, they got to participate in a parade at the hospital to show them off.

Eight-year-old Chase Fuller was DJ Marshmello. Chase, who was paralyzed in a May car crash and came to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation began listening to the popular DJ for inspiration during therapy sessions. 

Credit: Courtesy of Mary Free Bed
Mary Free Bed's 2019 Halloween Heroes Parade on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.

Nate Boersma, 6, whose wheelchair was transformed last year into the Polar Express, decided to stick with the train theme again this year and was James the Red Engine from The Railway Series children’s books. He and his family also volunteered to help make costumes for other kids. 

Credit: Courtesy of Mary Free Bed
Mary Free Bed's 2019 Halloween Heroes Parade on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.

Molly Malleis, 4, wanted to be a firefighter, and her twin brother, Patrick, wanted to be a dinosaur. To tie both costumes together, Molly will be a fire truck from Jurassic Park, towing her brother as a T-Rex.

Credit: Courtesy of Mary Free Bed

All the marchers took to the sidewalk around the hospital and right past Mercy Health Saint Mary's, where patients can see the show.

The Forest Hills Central Marching Band got the parade rolling and the kids were joined by Cosplay Crusaders superheros and furry friends from the West Michigan Therapy Dog Associated. There was also a few emergency vehicles on display from the Grand Rapids Police Department, area fire departments and the Kent County Sheriff's Office.

►Last year's Halloween Heroes Parade


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