Patient Stories

RISING STARS — Liam’s Story

Story Summary

Shriners Hospitals for Children — ChicagoTwo-year-old Liam is enjoying a new ride – a red VW convertible – thanks to Go Baby Go, a program at Shriners Hospitals for Children® — Chicago.

“It’s going to give him a little more independence, which is what he’s been looking for, said his mother, Amber.”

Go Baby Go provides battery-operated ride-on toy vehicles for children unable to drive a typical toy car. Toy vehicles are purchased from retail stores and fitted with special controls to help kids drive them. Instead of using a foot pedal, for example, these cars typically have a large red push button mounted on the steering wheel.

“Kids want to be outside, have fun, be mobile and be a kid. And sometimes kids with certain conditions don’t have a way to do that, said Ann Flanagan, co-director of rehabilitation services at he Shriners Hospital in Chicago.”

The cars, buttons and other modifications, such as a safety harness and extra support, are provided thanks to the Orthopaedic & Rehabilitation Engineering Center at Marquette University, and an anonymous donor. Researcher Ben McHenry, Ph.D., customizes each vehicle to fit the needs of its young driver.

Go Baby Go cars can offer long-term benefits to patients.

“The toy cars can help us teach children cause and effect,” Flanagan said. “Research is finding that the way we learn is often through movement. But when you can’t move like a typically developing child, it may be harder to grasp certain concepts

“These cars can be a first step to helping children learn about their environment. They may be a first step towards teaching a child to navigate a power wheelchair, for example”

Former First Lady Alice — RISING STARS


To us, all of our patients, and their families, are Rising Stars. Former First Lady Alice Smith is dedicated to helping the patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children live satisfying and productive lives. Her program supports the availability of adaptive and assistive technology that helps them achieve their goals, and become as independent as possible.

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