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The high school robotics team built seven wheelchairs for children with disabilities.

Farmington High School’s Rogue Robotics helps families free of charge.

FARMINGTON, Minnesota –

2023 UPDATE:

This story was originally published in 2019. Since then, the Farmington High School robotics team has set up six additional wheelchairs for children with musculoskeletal disabilities. All chairs were donated to families free of charge.

Two families who received custom wheelchairs have since returned them as their children outgrew them so the chairs could be modified for other children.

Last year, the Rogue Robotics team won their first regional competition in the program’s 14-year history, advancing to the national championship in Houston.

A month after the original story aired, the team was honored by former First Lady Melania Trump at the White House.

ORIGINAL STORY:

In need of an expensive power wheelchair for their son, the parents of 2-year-old Killian Jackson turned to an unexpected source. Teenagers.

Thanks to the robotics team at Farmington High School, Killian now has his own machine, a working electric wheelchair hand-built from a Power Wheels riding toy.

In need of an expensive power wheelchair for their son, the parents of 2-year-old Killian Jackson turned to an unexpected source. Teenagers.

Thanks to the robotics team at Farmington High School, Killian now has his own machine, a working electric wheelchair hand-built from a Power Wheels riding toy.

“These kids took time out of their busy schedules to do this for our son,” said Killian’s mother, Chrissy Jackson. “We are so grateful.”

Killian was born with a genetic disorder that makes it difficult to move around. “He has a particularly difficult time controlling his body. He has many of the symptoms that one would see in a person with cerebral palsy,” said Tyler Jackson, Killian’s father.

Tyler Jackson turned to the robotics team at his former high school after realizing that a real powered wheelchair would be prohibitively expensive for his family and unlikely to be covered by insurance due to Killian’s young age.

Farmington robotics coach Spencer Elveback says his students didn’t hesitate. “I raised this question in front of the kids at the meeting: “Do we want to do this?” Elvebak recalls. The mood was unanimous. Yes!

“It’s a big part of my job to work with these kids,” Elveback said.

Members of the robotics team replaced almost all the electrical components in the Power Wheels toy, installed a seat from a bike mount, and designed a joystick to fit Killian’s needs, which the students 3D printed.

Along the way, they turned to GOBABYGO! for technical assistance. is a program at the University of Delaware that helps mobility children with disabilities.

But for the most part, the Farmington students relied on the skills they had learned while building their competition robots.

“Instead of doing a task, we are helping to change someone’s life,” said team member Drew Eisenzimmer.

Killian immediately set to work on his trip.

Last week, four months after getting a wheelchair, Killian returned with his family to school and reunited with the teens responsible for his gift. They looked and smiled and waved as Killian paced the classroom.

“It really helps him explore like never before,” Sillan’s mom said.

Genuine power wheelchairs can cost upwards of $20,000. Killian’s father said insurance reimbursement is currently not an option.

“Killian still lacks the maturity and focus to drive an electric wheelchair in public, which is the main reason why he was not approved for it. To be honest, we haven’t even tried yet because we know he will be denied based on the qualification requirements,” Tyler Jackson said.

At the same time, according to Jackson, his son “has the opportunity to continue to work on this skill, while also being able to explore it on his own to help his cognitive development.”

The Farmington High School robotics team has earned more trophies than its share over the years, but this is different.

“I think we won more here than in our competitions,” said team member Nicole Cash.

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