Hot Wheels: Milligan, ETSU students partner with AdaptoPlay to outfit vehicles for youth

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, October 11, 2017

For over a year, students from Milligan College have taken advantage of the opportunity to help children from the region.
Milligan engineering students, along with East Tennessee State University Public Health and Physical Therapy students, joined with AdaptoPlay’s Go Baby Go Appalachia program to outfit toy Jeeps for children who are unable to move independently. Tuesday afternoon, three children from the region were all smiles after receiving their very own vehicles.
One of the children receiving a motorized vehicle was Anna Grace Mathews of Kingsport. From the smiles showcased Tuesday, Anna Grace’s mother, Melanie couldn’t be happier with the final result, thanking physical therapist Becky Mooney for making her aware of the program.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity for her to have this little car,” Mathews said. “She’s almost three years old but she isn’t walking yet. It’s exciting to know that she’ll be able to go outside and explore instead of having to be carried around.
Giving children the ability to move independently is the goal of Go Baby Go Appalachia, according to president Alex Nelson.
“There are many kids that can’t go outside and play with their friends,” Nelson said. The president alluded to the fact the powered wheelchairs typically range from $5,000 to $30,000 while Jeeps can run anywhere from $600 to $800.
Having the opportunity to make an impact is one of the goals for students involved with the engineering department, according to Milligan Engineering Director Dr. Greg Harrell.
“Our engineering program is built on hands-on engineering. We want students to understand and analyze problems,” Harrell said. “Our students are heavily involved in modifying these vehicles. They understand the concept of what their work can produce and see how it can change a child’s life. With these vehicles, these children can have the mobility to go outside and play with their friends. Seeing the work make an immediate impact and making a difference is what the program is all about. This is such a great day.”
AdaptoPlay is a local nonprofit organization, and the goal of giving back to children is expected to stop anytime soon, Nelson said. For the future, the president alluded to the fact that organization is always searching for volunteers to assist with projects.
“Days like today, I think it’s amazing,” she said. “It’s amazing to get the community together, from engineering to therapy students and see their hard work. We’re always looking for people to get involved.”
For more information about the program, visit or Go Baby Go Appalachia’s Facebook page online.

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