Stateline Robotics team 4655 students and coaches watched seven- year old Jack Hughes try out his newly modified car in the gymnasium at Hononegah Community High School, July 29. The robotics team customized a motorized cart that will improve Jack’s quality of life and mobility. ((L-R) Kacy Johnson, Nik Little, Jayden Dahlberg, Kris King (asst. coach), Sydney Singer, Zach Johnson and Nick Johnson (coach.) Brian Brown (not pictured) is the Robotics team instructor and chemistry teacher at HCHS.

By Jean Seegers
Thanks in part to the Hononegah High School Robotics Team, seven-year old Jack Hughes has gained a degree of independence. Jack was born with Cerebral Palsy, which affects muscles throughout his body.
Jack’s condition affects muscle tone and body control.
Jack started first grade at Rockton Grade School this Fall. His parents Michelle and Mike Hughes had been looking for ways to improve their son’s quality of life. Their goal was to help him to be more independent and be able to participate in outside activities at school.
A few months ago, they received a grant from Power Wheels Wild Thing made by Fisher Price. The bright orange and black chair is equipped with dual joy sticks and can travel five miles per hour.
However, it needed to be customized to fit Jack’s special needs. Michelle contacted the Stateline Robotics Team at Hononegah. The team met with Jack and his parents and decided to accept the challenge.
The cart needed to be re-wired, and programmed to make it move. Cushioning on the seat and backrest needed to be increased and the head area had to be positioned accurately. Safety features were installed including a shut-off switch and remote speed control.
It took the team three months to complete the customization.
Jack’s best friend is his 13-year-old sister Molly. Since the chair was delivered to the Hughes’ home in July, Jack and his sister Molly, who is also his best friend have spent nearly every day playing outside.
Jack showed off his new skills at the “Big Reveal” in the gymnasium at Hononegah High School, on Wednesday, July 24. Family and friends, members of the robotics team and their coaches were on hand to watch Jack zip around the gymnasium floor, spinning, backing up and charging forward.
“Jack hasn’t ever been able to actually play,” Michelle said. “The robotics students should know they have changed his life.”
Kris King is the assistant coach of the robotics team. She and head coach Nick Johnson are proud of what the students were able to accomplish. “The students were able to use their passion for robotics to give this little boy mobility and also learn the skills to hopefully do it again.”
The team is in the process of sharing their designs and ideas with other high school robotics teams all across the country.

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