MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A lot of kids got battery-operated cars as gifts for the holidays. But for some children, they’re not just toys – the cars are changing their lives.
Ryan Philio is turning 6 years old.
“He wakes up every day and does things he’s not supposed to be able to do,” Ryan’s mother, Paula Philio, said.
Ryan has a genetic disorder known as PCH1, which prevents the brain and muscles from developing properly.
He can’t speak, and he can barely move his body.
The national non-profit program “Go Baby Go” modifies battery-operated cars for children who have disabilities.
Professor Skye Donovon leads a chapter at Marymount University in Virginia.
“How does this help improve the child’s mobility?” asked CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang.
“This is what we call an ability button. It’s really touch sensitive. We can put this button anywhere to make it easier for the child to move or we can use it as therapy,” Donovon explained.
This car was custom-built for Ryan.
“We added a couple different modifications to support his body, support his trunk and help support his head a little bit,” said a Go Baby Go volunteer.
In Ryan’s case, the car helps him sit up straight to develop core muscles and use his hands.
His mom says that’s not the best part.
“In the evenings, where everyone is playing, all the kids are out, he gets to take his car out and he gets to be like everybody else,” she said.
Ryan’s life is not easy. It’s filled with physical therapy sessions and doctors appointments.
But when he’s behind the wheel, his mother says, “he just gets to be a little boy… a little boy.”