We’re excited to announce the winner of our January, 2024 Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant for his wonderful kindness project. The grant was given by Matt’s Kindness Ripples On (MKRO), an organization that encourages acts of kindness by helping people who have ideas for kindness projects but lack the funding to follow through on those ideas.
Congratulations to Aanand Mehta! He will receive $500 to help fund his acts of kindness project!
Aanand Mehta (Phoenix, AZ) is the founder of Magical Motors, a non-profit that strives to provide assistive mobility vehicles for children with developmental disabilities ages 3 to 8.
In 2019, Aanand was introduced to rehabilitation therapy for children with developmental disorders at the Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona where he volunteered. He learned that 1 in 6 children in the U.S. have a developmental disability, yet there is a burgeoning inaccessibility to assistive mobility vehicles for children.
When he found out that the vast majority of children who suffer from mobility issues are unable to afford the power wheelchairs necessary for mobility freedom because costs run into the thousands of dollars, he realized he could help.
Aanand’s cousin, Rohan Fichadia, had taken on a project building modified cars for his Eagle Scout project. In just a few hours and with limited money, he was able to turn a toy into something children with developmental disabilities could use, fostering social and motor growth.
Aanand strongly believes every child should have the right to mobility. In 2021 he and his cousin created Magical Motors. They started modifying ride-on toy cars, an affordable alternative making them accessible for kids to drive, empowering them to become socially mobile and giving them a sense of independence.
Aanand (L) with volunteers and another happy recipient of his modified car.
Aanand said, “As opposed to pediatric power wheelchairs, which cost thousands of dollars and take several years to receive, our Magical Motors cars cost a few hundred dollars and only take 3 hours to entirely build.
This is primarily achieved by rewiring these cars to allow them to be hand-controlled, as opposed to being conventionally foot-pedaled. We do so using an adaptive button that fastens to the steering wheel, rerouting the car’s power to that button.
We maintain recipient satisfaction and the child’s safety as our foremost priority. For this reason, we also install arm-and-back support and seatbelts and utilize another electrical modification, a kill switch, which allows a parent-lock-like mechanism that disables the car motors until the switch is flipped.
We add remote-control and install stereo systems. With these adaptations, we create an alternative that allows a child to gain mobility entertainingly, motivating them to progress toward independence.”
In addition, Aanand has developed a curriculum called Wheel Wizards, that can be used in high schools, supporting STEM education and volunteerism so others can learn how to modify cars contributing to the success of the program while teaching valuable skills in the process.
We are inspired by Aanand and the work he does. He improves the lives of many children and encourages others to do the same. He’s amazing and we’re proud to have him in our MKRO family.
This grant is given in honor of Matt Kurtz, (1985-2017), a young man whose personal philosophy was to live an honorable, compassionate and non-judgmental life. To give for the sake of giving, to expect nothing in return, to be aware of the world around him and to step in to help others without being asked whenever he saw the need. Matt believed in the ripple effect of a simple act of kindness – like a pebble dropped in water, it goes on and on. You can find out more about how Matt lived his life, examples of his many acts of kindness, big and small, and why this grant was created on MattsKindnessRipplesOn.com.