SUN RIVER — A robotics team based in Sun River recently took on an ambitious project aimed at helping a young man overcome his medical condition.
Britton Buckingham, 14, was diagnosed with myelomeningocele, a rare spinal disease in which the spinal cavities don’t close properly, severely limiting range of motion and even causing paralysis.
“Doctors said it was one of the worst cases they had ever seen”, said jenny buckingham, Britton's mother.
Doctors thought Britton would be confined to a wheelchair, but he overcame the odds.
“We found an awesome physical therapist in Provo, Utah, and they started working with Britton when he was 2.5 years old. Now he walks with crutches,” Jenny explained.
A stellar attitude and love for life has helped Britton continue to push the boundaries others prematurely set for him.
Now Britton is gearing up to clear more hurdles, at the Valley Fun Day parade in Simms, for a day three years in the making.
Chuck Merja, the Sun River Robotics Club mentor, recalls how he met Britton in 2019 through a family connection: "[Jenny’s] mother-in-law, Britton’s grandmother, she went to school here in Simms, and I dated her younger sister.” “I posted on Facebook a picture of a motorbike with a wheelchair side-cart and Bonita (Britton’s grandmother) said that would be perfect for my grandson.”
The social media interaction spawned a friendship between Britton and Chuck and the idea for the hydraulic tricycle was born.
Chuck took his measurements and began drafting blueprints with his robotics team. Then Covid hit, and Britton grew taller.
After taking new measurements, construction on the tricycle continued last year.
Now thanks to the robotics team, the tricycle is operational and ready for Britton to take his first of many joyrides.
“I’m forever grateful to Chuck and all that he’s done for me the past three years. It’s been good to know him and have a relationship with him,” said Britton.
If you want to see Britton take on the bike races, head on down to the Valley Fun Day parade in Simms on Saturday, August 13.
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