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Dads create inclusive Halloween costumes for wheelchair-bound sons

Posted at 3:58 PM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 09:58:42-05

MCALESTER, Okla. — Halloween is a little different when you're child is in a wheelchair, but Brian Kihlstrom has been making it work.

After trying to dress up his son Reid, Kihlstrom noticed his son's costumes weren't very visible.

"His costumes were mostly covered up by his wheelchair straps," Kihlstrom said. "That's when I decided to start making costumes for Reid."

Kihlstrom first made Reid a batman inspired bat-mobile costume two years ago, then last year he made Reid a stealth fighter jet costume. Kihlstrom makes the costumes to fit over Reid's wheelchair.

"It’s all about inclusion, we want to be included in everything, some functions aren’t necessarily geared towards handicap kids," Kihlstrom said.

Reid was diagnosed with cerebral palsey when he was 18 months old, but that hasn't stopped him from being his dad's 'right hand man.'

"I wouldn’t have it another way because he’s my best friend." Kihlstrom said.

This year, Kihlstrom has designed a Lightning McQueen costume for 4-year-old Reid.

"This is the first year where we know he's excited about it, he loves the movie 'Cars'," Kihlstrom said.

Also a first this year, Reid has a partner. 6-year-old Harlin Johnson and his dad Frankie Johnson.

Harlin was diagnosted with a rare genetic condition called FITM2. It affects Harlin's muscles and his ability to retain any fat on his body. Due to that, Harlin depends on his wheelchair. However, Harlin and his Dad still love to participate in activities together.

"We’ve always had fun, I love to see his smile, but to me it seems it's a little bit bigger this year," Johnson said.

Harlin's wheelchair is dressed-up as ‘Mater’ also from the 'Cars' movie.

"I was really happy and honored he asked me to be a part of this," Johnson said. "It's our responsibility as parents to give them every opportunity available whether they are special needs or not."

Johnson says his son is already having more fun this Halloween.

"To see him happy and to smile, it just melts my heart really, because I would do anything for my child just like I know Brian would do anything for his," Johnson said.

The costumes the dads built took only about 40 hours each to make this year. They boys have competed in two costume contests have won first place in both. The dads also said they have already drawn up plans for next year.

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