Wheelchair Motocross World Champion and Paralympic athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham could not believe it when Hot Wheels approached him for a collaboration.
In partnership with the five-time Wheelchair Motocross World Champion and Paralympic athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham, Hot Wheels has developed its first-ever remote-controlled wheelchair toy. The toy is intended to expand the representation of children who use wheelchairs. Fotheringham was born with spina bifida and since the age of 8 has been a full-time wheelchair user. He is best known for performing elaborate tricks and backflips in his wheelchair. The toy is currently available for purchase from Hot Wheels' parent company, toymaker Mattel, on Amazon. The remote-controlled toy was crafted to mimic Fotheringham's custom-built wheelchair and is even painted green to match his, CNN reports.
The new @Hot_Wheels toy was created in collaboration with five-time Wheelchair Motocross World Champion and Paralympic athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham: https://t.co/cGzSYE8wXU @Mattel #Disability #RepresentationMatters— United Response (@unitedresponse) May 16, 2022
For the Paralympian, the collaboration is a dream come true. He noted in an interview with the news outlet, "Growing up, I did not have anything like this." At the launch event for the toy, he saw children, including wheelchair users, "having fun" playing with the toy. He stated, "You could kind of see their faces light up." According to Fotheringham, the toy is a way for children to think beyond their realities, as it "really gives you that freedom of imagination." The toy features a built-in action figure made to look exactly like him in addition to a remote control and a ramp, so it can perform tricks just like he does.
Reportedly, the athlete could not believe it when Hot Wheels approached him for the partnership. He said, "For Hot Wheels to want to do my chair was the biggest compliment ever." Fotheringham hopes that the toy helps shift public perception of wheelchairs, showing that a medical device can also be fun and adventurous. "I think the [remote-controlled toy] is awesome," he reiterated. "Because it really brings a positive, fun light to something that otherwise people make way too serious."
Gerry Cody, director of product design for Hot Wheels RC and Innovation at Mattel, agreed. He said he hopes the toy will inspire children to push past perceived limitations. He affirmed in a statement, "We are excited for our latest collaboration with Aaron 'Wheelz' Fotheringham and introduction of our first-ever Hot Wheels R/C wheelchair toy, reinforcing our goal to inspire kids to break boundaries and pursue their dreams no matter what personal challenges they may face. We worked closely with Aaron to ensure this product was an accurate representation of his wheelchair, and a fun toy to play with. We cannot wait to see all the stories that come with a first-ever, one-of-a-kind toy like this."
In partnership with Paralympian athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, Hot Wheels has launched its first ever remote-controlled wheelchair toy. pic.twitter.com/zSXSwUwSms— A Plus (@aplusapp) May 16, 2022
Fotheringham launched his wheelchair motocross career when he visited a skate park at age 8. During his visit, his brother suggested that he try dropping into the skate ramp on his wheelchair. Following a few unsuccessful attempts, he was finally able to do it. "Then I abandoned everything else and became obsessed with the skate park," the athlete shared. "What I enjoyed about going to the skate park, and what I still enjoy, is you can be as creative as you want. You are never really bored. If you are bored, you are not progressing."