When a special resident of St. Louis needed a custom Halloween costume to accommodate her disabilities, she found help from the volunteers at PayIt Forward, the philanthropic arm of PayIt.
Faith Wildschuetz, 12, was born with SOX2 anophthalmia syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affected Faith’s physical development in the womb. As a result, Faith was born without eyes and without the ability to speak, sit or stand on her own.
While this combination of physical restrictions changes the way Faith interacts with the world around her, Faith has not let it dull her vibrant personality.
Faith is a very determined girl, who works hard and loves challenges. She absolutely loves music and sound, and through hand signals, Faith told us she wanted a Frozen movie-themed wheelchair costume for Halloween.”
– Mike Wildschuetz, Faith’s father
That’s where PayIt entered the picture.
The company contacted the City of St. Louis’ Collector of Revenue and License Collector offices, existing agency partners who work with PayIt and have seen positive results from and won awards for the partnership. PayIt Forward expressed interest in working collaboratively to fulfill Faith’s wish and schedule a special event to reveal the costume to Faith’s family.
Through volunteer hours dedicated specifically to Faith’s request, the PayIt Forward team combined sparkling snowflakes, cold packs wrapped in soft felt and faux-wood décor to create a costume that would transform Faith’s wheelchair into a sleigh fit for a Frozen princess.
Of course, every princess deserves a tiara, too, so PayIt Forward members made sure to create a crown complete with a costume wig of blonde hair, ensuring Faith would look like both royal sisters from the Disney movie—a detail Faith playfully included in her original request.
Faith’s costume project actually worked very similarly to how we approach products for agencies and citizens. We listen to the problems they face and then provide them with beautiful, functional solutions that solve their challenges. Since Faith is blind, this means incorporating sound, music and even cold-touch elements into the costume design so that she can experience it just as much as everyone who can see it does.”
– PayIt Lead Product Manager and PayIt Forward volunteer Rhiannon Scherer
Through the company’s partnership with the city’s government agencies, PayIt Forward secured Bar K St. Louis to host the costume reveal on Oct. 16, 2021. The venue donated its accessible space, ensuring Faith’s wheelchair could easily navigate the area as dozens of people from her family, the surrounding community, PayIt and its St. Louis government partners came together to celebrate Faith and her new costume.
“Our partnership with PayIt has always been about putting our residents first and meeting their needs. I am proud of the work we are doing with PayIt and know that together, we will continue to do what we can to make people’s lives better.”
– City of St. Louis Collector of Revenue Gregory FX Daly
PayIt initially learned of Faith’s request through Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes, a Kansas City-based non-profit. After learning that the organization provides children in walkers and wheelchairs with custom costumes through a nationwide volunteer network, Faith’s parents submitted her Frozen-themed request in 2019.
“We founded this organization to create exceptional costumes for exceptional kids—the ones who, due to physical differences, aren’t served by the traditional Halloween market. Unfortunately, cancellations of events in 2020 added to our struggle of raising awareness and finding builders who could deliver outside of Kansas City and impacted our ability to create and deliver Faith’s request.”
– Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes founder Lon Davis
As part of the mission of Walkin’ & Rollin’ Costumes, each new request is fulfilled at no cost to the families, as volunteers design, build and cover the costs of each costume. This presented PayIt with the opportunity to create a costume while allowing Faith’s family to focus on the other aspects of Halloween that contribute to making the holiday special for children.
This dedication to alleviating daily stress exemplifies the partnership between the city and PayIt, according to one City of St. Louis official.
“Our office rallying around Faith is representative of what we strive to do for our communities. A top priority is to consider what we can do to make a difference outside the four walls of City Hall. Having PayIt involved in this costume creation is meaningful because it is important that partnerships with the License Collector’s Office reflect this same intention to serve the citizens of our great city.”
– City of St. Louis License Collector Mavis T. Thompson, Esq.
Through partnerships with state and local agencies, such as those in St. Louis, and collaboration with private sector companies, PayIt paves the way forward for what a modern, citizen-centric organization looks like. This approach is intentional and is built into PayIt’s overall mission.
“PayIt takes a citizen-first approach to what we can do for everyone in a community. We are tremendously honored to have partners who want to make a difference on the individual level, so being able to utilize those partnerships to make Faith’s wish a reality means everything to us.”
– PayIt Co-Founder Mike Plunkett
PayIt is the leading SaaS provider of digital government services and payments. Through cloud-native technology, PayIt’s platform simplifies doing business with government agencies of any size by consolidating hundreds of services and payments into one connected experience for citizens. Within a 90-day launch period, PayIt delivers a platform that allows citizens to handle all of their essential government tasks (i.e. taxes, driving documents, permits, licenses, fines).
This innovative approach to government service delivery has garnered significant recognition in both the public and private sectors:
- GovTech 100 (2017-2021)
- Fast Company Innovation in Design Award (2019)
- StateScoop 50 State IT Innovation of the Year (2019-2020)
- NASCIO State IT Recognition finalist (2020)
- LocalSmart Awards (2020)