Chariot Megan's legacy
Martin Hill set out to invent something that would let one incredible little girl hit the road with her cycling enthusiast dad.
Jonathan Clark enjoyed cycling by himself but wanted to take his 13-year-old daughter and her wheelchair along for the ride.
Eighteen-year-old inventor and innovator Martin knew this was something he could help his whanau leader at Botany Downs Secondary College achieve.
The end result was remarkable. Megan's Chariot was designed, manufactured and delivered.
But devastatingly Megan was never able to take that ride, she died suddenly two weeks before it was finished.
Martin says the unexpected death changed the nature of the project and filled him with an intense drive to finish it for her.
"When Megan passed away I knuckled down and wanted to finish it to the best of my ability in memory of her and to make her happy."
He never saw Megan use the chariot but says it was wonderful to see her younger sister go for a ride in her memory.
"Angela was really keen to test it for her sister and so she got into the wheelchair and we put it on the chariot and went around the neighbourhood."
Martin says the result was just what he had imagined the design would bring to Megan - utter joy.
"When we took Angela out in the chariot there were other kids in the neighbourhood just out having fun and riding around on their bikes beside her.
"It made me really happy to see that if it goes to someone who will use it a lot, then it will help them to interact with other kids."
The deputy head boy says he has always set out to create designs that have meaning, but this has been by far the most rewarding.
"I wanted to remove the limitations that people in wheelchairs have. Why should disability decide what a person can or cannot do?
"The chariot allows them to live a life just like you or me and to do something like go for a bike ride with their family just like you or I would."
Mr Clark says Angela loved riding in it so much that she "would keep it if she could". But he says it is important the chariot goes to someone who is going to use it for how it was designed.
"I would hate to see it sitting in a garage somewhere."
He says the project started out as something fun for the family to do with Megan but has changed into something much more poignant.
"While he was making it I could see how much she was going to enjoy it so I want that effort to be rewarded by seeing the joy of someone using it."
Not only will the chariot go on to be enjoyed by another child like Megan but it has been recognised by the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Award. It also helped Martin clinch the vice-chancellor scholarship at AUT University.
Mr Clark says Martin has done well to cope with Megan's death and finish the project with such fervour.
"Instead of it just being a piece of equipment it has become something of a legacy."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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