Tattoo Artist Paints Galaxy-Themed Walker For Toddler With Hypotonia

Xavier in Stories

A tattoo artist from Iowa lends his art skills to a peppy two-year-old with hypotonia to give the kid's walker an out-of-this-world revamp.

Courtesy of Courtney Knapp
Courtesy of Courtney Knapp

Meet Kai, one of the peppiest two-year-old you'll ever come across. He'll be psyched to show you his out-of-this-world walker courtesy of a particular friend from the neighborhood. Henri “Kai” Grabill is born with a rare chromosome abnormality that causes him to have hypotonia. Because of this his muscle strength is very weak, making it difficult for him to walk. This is why the tot needs a walker. Kai first got a loaner walker but his mother, Courtney Knapp thinks it's time he gets himself a proper one.

But Courtney Knapp does not want this to be like any other medical aid. She wants Kyle to see it as more than that. “I didn't want it to just be another medical device we have to deal with,” his mom, Courtney told The Huffington Post. “I wanted him to see it and be excited to walk with it instead of feeling like daily chore.”


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    Courtesy of Courtney Knapp
    Courtesy of Courtney Knapp

    So she turned to the tattoo artist, Nathan Gerger of Ironside Tattoo in Ankeny, knowing that he can do the best job for Kai. Gerger had painted casts before but he's never done anything like this so it's a new and challenging task he's willing to take on. For inspiration, Courtney sent the tattoo artist a picture of the toddler's favorite shoes—a pair of galaxy-printed Chucks.

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    Courtesy of Courtney Knapp
    Courtesy of Courtney Knapp

    Although Gerger has never done something like it before, he's willing to take it on and paint a smile on the child's face. “Anytime I get to paint, I get to learn something new,” said the 33-year-old tattoo artist.

    When Courtney was ready to pay Gerger for his outstanding work, she was surprised to have the tattoo artist turn it down. But she insisted at least a tip and a snack. “I gave him a big tip and some beef jerky,” Courtney said, laughing. “I figured he must get hungry working in the studio all day.”

    “It just goes to show that there are still good people around,” the mother of six said. “People think tattoo artists are a scary bunch, but they’re actually really nice.”

    Courtesy of Courtney Knapp
    Courtesy of Courtney Knapp

    And as for her spirited, young man, saying Kai loved it is kind of an understatement. “He doesn't like anyone touching it, and he goes where he wants to go,” Knapp said. “Instead of us leading him, he leads us.”



    When she's not writing for Tattoodo, Xavier likes experimenting with art and organizing local music shows. We're kidding, she's probably asleep. Follow her on Instagram @claudia_strife


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