Wheels4Kids and CATS surprise Clayton Cassell

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Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Photo by Pam Dudding-Burch
PIC 1; Without hesitation, Clayton Cassell puts the gas pedal down to the floor and casually drives by his mom and CATS and Rick Dudding (the team who arranged for his conversion truck). He drove with his knee and laid his arm on the window and smiled as he went by.

With one foot pushing the pedal through the floor board, and his partial arm casually set on the window of his newly converted Power Wheels, Clayton Cassell drove by everyone, holding the steering wheel with his right knee, with the biggest grin that seemed like it could touch the outskirts of Texas.


Rick Dudding, founder of Wheels4Kids, and Randall Cummins, Representative of CATS, were more than delighted to arrange for Clayton Cassell to receive his free conversion truck that is adapted to his stub of only having an arm to his elbow. “I love everything about it,” Clayton yelled with excitement.

On Friday, August 11, Rick Dudding with Wheels4Kids and Randall Cummins, representing CATS, Children’s Assistive Technology Service, met Emily Cassell with her son, Clayton, to receive his new surprise power vehicle. CATS provides items which allows a person with disabilities to perform a task which otherwise could not be done. “Doing the cars for kids is only a teeny tiny part of what we do,” Cathie shared. More information is available at the website www.atdevicesforkids.org.

Rick Dudding met Cathie Cummins at a car show and asked her to come to his Wheels4Kids show. When she did, she met Clayton who has no arms from the elbows down. “I fell in love with that little boy!” she said. “She made a dream come true for Clayton,” Dudding shared.

As Cummins and Dudding unloaded the candy apple red truck, Clayton’s eyes widened like golf balls. His mouth flew open and he said, “That’s my favorite color!”

They carried it and placed it on the picnic table so Cummins could explain the details. Immediately, Clayton asked if he could sit in it.

Cummins and Dudding lifted the car from the picnic table down onto the ground. With one leap, it seemed that Clayton was in his new vehicle. In his excitement, he didn’t even open the door. “You have a door!” his mom said. He was too enthralled with all the other cool things he was seeing in his new vehicle, to think about a door.

Cummins showed him step-by-step how to turn it on, where the forward and reverse gears were, how the lights, horn and the radio worked as well as the MP3 hookup.

Clayton asked about the box was that was velcroed onto the window. “That is how I can drive you around!” his mom said with a giggle. Cummins shared how the remote control worked and that he had a speed control with three speeds on it.

“It has a 12-volt receptacle which makes it easier to plug it in to charge it,” Cummins explained. Clayton was attentive to every detail.

The vehicle was designed with a cup attached to the steering wheel. It has three holes so it can be adjusted to the best comfortable drive for Clayton’s stub that he places in the cup to turn the truck.

“Can I drive it right now?” Clayton asked in anticipation. His foot hit the gas and he was off. “That is awesome!” Cummins commented as Clayton zoomed around, seemingly knowing every facet of the vehicle already.

“It’s fast!” he exclaimed as he circled around for another test drive. This time he went off into the grass. “There you go, go off road!” Dudding said.

His mom surprised Clayton when he was driving and stopped it with the remote. He looked down at the vehicle, like there was something wrong, until his mom laughed and then she got ‘the look’.

Randall Cummins, representing CATS (Children’s Assistive Technology) Service, showed Clayton and his mom, Emily, about all the special features the truck had.

When Clayton was asked if his mom was going to get to ride it, he quickly answered, “no!” He giggled and drove on. Dudding looked under the wheels to see if it had a motor on each wheel, sharing his knowledge of the Power Wheels. “Hey bud; you have two motors, which mean you can go five miles per hour!” So immediately he asked, “Can I drive it faster?”

The vehicle was loaded into a friend’s truck, as it wouldn’t fit in Clayton’s mom’s vehicle. His two brothers were anticipating getting to drive it as soon as they got home.

Though Clayton said his ‘thank yous’ to Cummins and Dudding, the wide and happy smile said it all. “You enjoy!” Cummins said. “Don’t speed!” Dudding added as Clayton looked at him and laughed.

As everyone drove off, Dudding said quietly, “This is what Wheels4Kids is all about…helping kids!”