It’s going to be a heartwarming Halloween for one 4-year-old boy after local high school students created a customized wheelchair costume to transform him into his favorite superhero.
Zephan Cantu of Indiana has cerebral palsy, a rare congenital disorder that affects muscle tone and posture, often causing rigid or floppy limbs and difficulty walking, according to the Mayo Clinic. Zephan uses a wheelchair because of the condition, CBS News reported, and it has made him feel like an outcast during normally festive holidays like Halloween.
“Last year it was just stares and pointing,” his mother, Leeann Cantu, told the outlet. “Things like that.”
Zephan looks up to one superhero in particular who is known for his extraordinary strength — and that’s the Incredible Hulk, the gargantuan Marvel character famous for smashing and pulverizing bad guys who get in his way.
That’s why when a team of arts and robotics students at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, heard about Zephan’s story, they had an idea — why not use their skills to build a special Halloween costume customized just for Zephan?
“This is a great opportunity for him, and it’s something that he might not have otherwise been able to do,” student Zoey Griffith told WNDU. “It’s nice to see Penn coming together to do such a great thing for him.”
“Halloween is just really cool as a kid. It’s really exciting,” she continued. “You get candy from strangers and get to go around and have a lot of fun, so it’s great for him to do that just like everybody else.”
For student Isabella Costa, building the costume was personal, since her sister was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“It’s a very good opportunity that I wish my sister also had,” Costa told KMOV. “So it’s just nice to see other families get this gift.”
On Saturday, the team presented the family with an elaborate costume that transforms Zephan into the Jeep-driving Incredible Hulk.
“Six weeks of hard work from countless Penn High School teachers, students and volunteers all lead up to this Magic Wheelchair reveal at A Rosie Place for Children – O’Hana Heritage Foundation,” wrote the Penn Harris Madison School District on Facebook. “Take a look and try not to cry…This is what #PHMExcellence looks like.”
The spectacular costume will be something that hopefully gets people to notice Zephan for something other than his condition, his mother said. It may also be a chance for him to make new friends.
“It was great and emotional being able to see him actually being known and seeing that he means something to everybody,” Cantu told WNDU.
“I think somebody seeing him in something like this,” she added to KMOV, “a big costume that’s really noticeable, they’re gonna wanna say something to him.”