Dad Builds Wheelchair-Accessible Snow Fort So All 9 of His Kids Can Enjoy Winter Fun

dad builds snow fort for special needs children
Gregg Eichhorn/Facebook

An Ohio dad is getting a huge round of applause from the Internet this week, thanks to his genius idea to build an extra special kind of snow fort for his children. Gregg Eichhorn of Cincinnati spent nearly five hours Sunday working with his sister to build a magical and wheelchair-accessible snow fort for his nine adopted children, all of whom have special needs.

  • Photos of the awesome fort were first shared on Eichhorn's Facebook page.

    Friends who saw them posted them on Reddit, and they quickly went viral from there. Commenters wrote that Eichhorn is an "A-plus dad" who built an "A-plus fort." But the devoted dad told People that building the fort was all in a day's work. “I keep telling everybody, it’s really no big deal," he said. "We were already building a snow fort so when we were doing it I said, ‘Hey, let’s build it so that Elijah and Zahara, my two kids in wheelchairs, could use it as well."

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  • Eichhorn and his wife, Katie, have nine children who range in age from 4 to 19.

    Elijah and Zahara are both wheelchair bound, and their seven adopted siblings all have differing needs and abilities. According to a 2015 profile of the Eichhorn family on Cincinnati.com, the dad and his wife chose to forgo having biological children and adopt instead. Elijah was the first child to become a part of their family. He was born to an addict and went without oxygen to his brain for 18 minutes during his birth. Doctors gave him two months to live, but he beat the odds.

    "At first, when we first got together, we were thinking maybe we'd do biological mixed with adoption," Katie Eichhorn told Cincinnati.com. "But after we got Elijah, it kind of became clear that the need in the system was so great that to have biological kids would take away a spot that we could have a kiddo come in from the foster system."

  • The Eichhorns have dedicated their lives to caring for their special needs children and don't see their snow fort as anything extraordinary.

    For Eichhorn, this was just a simple way to make sure his kiddos who couldn't physically build the fort were still included in the fun. “They loved it! They were having a blast," he told People. Elijah opened his eyes up in there, and that was a big deal because he has cortical vision impairment. Our kids were so excited to see that.”

    “It’s just fun to build those kinds of things for nice family moments" he added. "[Zahara] just lit up. She smiled real big. I know she felt really special and included. She’s either bored or she’s happy -- and she was very, very happy to be out there.”

  • Even if Eichhorn doesn't see his fort as applause-worthy, other people are certainly impressed.

  • Eichhorn told People he appreciates the praise and he's glad for the opportunity to be able to get the word out about special needs and medical adoption.

    "My life is so much better having special needs kids," he said. "I don’t know what I would have done in life, but I would not be the person I am today. I would not have the compassion, the love. All the things I learned that I get to experience that other people don’t. People don’t know what they’re missing out on by not having people that are special around them.”

disability special needs