- Alexandra Seltzer Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday is Boynton Beach ’s annual Barrier Free 5K which raises money for the city’s Barrier Free Park. And a special 6-year-old will lead the event in an extra special wheelchair.
City employees Kevin Ramsey and Gail Mootz created a “magic wheelchair” for Joshua Hazzard, a kindergartner at Royal Palm School. Joshua was born with several rare brain disorders that have resulted in medical issues such as cortical legal blindness and cerebral palsy.
The wheelchair will be designed to look like Lightning McQueen, a car in the animated Pixar film “Cars.”
Ramsey and Mootz donated their labor and most of materials for the wheelchair, said Wally Majors, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
Joshua will be given his wheelchair Friday, before the 5K, at the Magic Wheels & Special Deals event at the park, 3111 S. Congress Ave. Then he’ll be the honorary starter at the 5K at the park, which was created specifically so children with disabilities could play on the playground alongside children without disabilities.
Future 6, a nonprofit that hosts surfing days for children with special needs at Oceanfront Park, told the city about Joshua. Future 6 PR Officer Adam McMichael, who is also a federal prosecutor in West Palm Beach, met the family when Joshua and his brother were adopted from foster care this past summer, according to a news release.
Tom and Marianne Hazzard finalized their adoption of the boys in July 2017. But they’ve taken care of Joshua since he was two days old. The adoption took longer because of Joshua’s health.
Joshua is known as the “mayor” at school because he loves to wave and say “hi” to everyone he meets, according to the release.
Last year, the city gave a magic wheelchair to Emma Pietrafesa , who was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, also known as CdLS. The wheelchair was designed to look like Emma’s father’s favorite car, a 2010 Camaro. Paul Pietrafesa, who worked for Coral Springs Fire Department, died from pancreatic cancer.
In 2016, Bellamaria Natale was given a wheelchair that looked like Cinderella’s carriage. She has an undiagnosed illness that weakens her body, but not her brain.