GoBabyGo! Rodeo Celebrates Collaborative Efforts While Helping Children With Special Needs

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Eight children with special needs were given modified ride-in toy cars through the efforts of the GoBabyGo! initiative. (Photo by Terri Fought/UTHSC)

Physical therapy and occupational therapy students at UTHSC wrapped up an eight-month collaborative effort with engineering students at Christian Brothers University as they showcased their work designed to help children with special needs to the public during the third-annual GoBabyGo! Rodeo on Saturday.

Students from both institutions, under the supervision of faculty, modified off-the-shelf, ride-in toy cars for eight children with disabilities who would otherwise not be able to use them. The event took place from 10 a.m. to noon in the UTHSC Student-Alumni Center. Faculty leadership thanked program sponsors and presented an overview of this year’s process before unveiling the newly modified cars.

Parker Whalin was the recipient of the first fire truck ever designed through the GoBabyGo! program. (Photo by Tanner Linz/UTHSC)

“With this event, we are experiencing an upward trajectory in collaborations and expanding the reach of the program,” said Kunal Singhal, PhD, PT, assistant professor in the UTHSC Department of Physical Therapy and faculty adviser for the event. “It was an absolute joy and surreal to watch these kids laughing and being excited about something that sometimes others take for granted. We are grateful that we were given this opportunity to make that difference in people’s lives.”

The GoBabyGo! initiative was launched at UTHSC by the Department of Physical Therapy in 2016. Since it began, 22 children with special needs have received cars. The children were referred to the program by community therapists.

Funding for the program relies solely on donations in order to provide services free of charge to families. Individuals interested in sponsoring GoBabyGo! can contact Bethany Goolsby, associate vice chancellor for development in the UTHSC Office of Development and Alumni Affairs at bgoolsby@uthsc.edu or 901.448.8212.