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Farmington students build motorized wheelchair for boy unable to walk

A motorized wheelchair can cost more than $20,000. Farmington's Rogue Robotics team built something better for a tiny fraction of the price.

A motorized wheelchair can cost more than $20,000. Farmington's Rogue Robotics team built something better for a tiny fraction of the price. Krissy Jackson

The next time someone laments how worthless the young are, point them in the direction of Farmington High School. That’s where they’ll find definitive evidence to the contrary.

Two-year-old Cillian Jackson was born with a genetic condition that leaves him unable to walk. With symptoms resembling those of cerebral palsy, mobility came only in a stroller or the arms of his parents, Krissy and Tyler Jackson.

Unfortunately, a motorized wheelchair runs $20,000. The Jacksons couldn’t afford that tab, nor would insurance pay the freight, since Cillian must be old enough to properly maneuver in public before it would be covered.

So Tyler Jackson turned to his alma mater, Farmington High, home to some of the brightest, most thoughtful kids this side of M.I.T.

The school has its own robotics team. Jackson asked the members if they might be interested in building a motorized wheelchair for his son.

The answer, of course, was yes. A very creative yes.

They began with a Power Wheels car, gutting the electronics and remaking them anew. They retrofitted it with a more comfortable bike carrier seat, fabricated a joystick, and built bumpers to avoid trashing the house.

It took a few weeks of working after school, but the good kids of Farmington did what the American medical and insurance industries could not: provide mobility to a boy whose family comes from common means.