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Disabled Children Fly, Run, Walk, Swim For Free; One-Day Offer Celebrates World Duchenne Awareness Day
Updated August 30, 2017 6:57 AM
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(UNDATED) - Children with disabilities are being offered free virtual reality rides at three Indiana malls on September 7 as Metaverse Entertainment commemorates World Duchenne Awareness Day.

The company will offer the free rides throughout its 10 locations in five states and donate profits from the day to two organizations that help families with children suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The disease slowly robs its victims of mobility as it progressively degenerates musculature, forcing most patients to become wheelchair-bound by age 12. Few live beyond age 20.

"Kids with disabilities face obstacles every day. We're thrilled to be able to give them an experience that lets them feel what it's like to fly or run or swim and be just like any other kid," said Scott Cunningham, Metaverse Entertainment's Chief Financial Officer.

The company's idea to donate the experiences came after a team member shared a video of a child with disabilities enjoying a Metaverse flight simulation experience in Virginia Beach. His mother said it was the first time he'd been able to physically play with his nondisabled friends on a level playing field.

"It was a humbling experience for us and we knew we wanted to bring that same joy to more children with disabilities," Cunningham said.

Jake Marrazzo, a 13-year-old Hudson, Mass. boy with Duchenne, was among the first children with disabilities to experience a Metaverse ride. "It's supercalafragalisticexpealadocious," he said. "I really enjoyed the underwater one with the colors and overall scenery, and the roller coaster one made me feel like I was really there."

"It's hard for anyone without disabilities to fully appreciate how limiting life can be for someone who needs help just getting from Point A to Point B," said Sheryl Marazzo, Jake's mom. "It's heartbreaking, and just wrong, frankly, when parents can't afford the equipment they need."

Jake is Sheryl and John Marrazzo's youngest child. Triatheletes, the Marrazzos learned Sheryl is a carrier only after Jake's diagnosis when he was eight. Their daughter carries the disease and their grandson has it as well. The 4JakesSake Foundation was founded in 2015 and has helped dozens of families. But there's always more demand than available funds.

"Metaverse is doing so much more than giving these kids a bit of fun," Sheryl Marrazzo said. "Their contributions will help these kids every day of their lives."

The Metaverse VR rides children with disabilities will be available from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at:

  • Castleton Square Mall at 6020 E 82nd St. in Indianapolis
  • College Mall at 2894 E 3rd St. in Bloomington
  • Greenwood Mall at 1251 US Highway 31 N. in Greenwood

The full experience involves a chair that has sensors to simulate movements in concert with the headsets that project 3D imagery and sound. Children whose disabilities prevent them from getting into the chair will be able to remain in their wheelchairs but use the VR headsets.

Duchenne affects one in 3,500 newborn boys each year, and 250,000 boys currently live with the disease. To learn more about Duchenne, go here or here or World Duchenne Awareness Day. The entire month of September is Duchenne Action Month with events occurring across the nation and the world.

About Metaverse Entertainment

Founded in 2016 and growing quickly, Metaverse offers VR rides that allow users to experience roller coaster rides, discover the Great Wall of China, visit London or the deep sea, run with dinosaurs, or get your zombie on in a horror experience. Find your ride at a mall near you by visiting the Metaverse website.



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