The story of Nate's wish begins 51 years ago when his grandparents, Vivien and Larry, got into a minor bidding war for a hot-off-the-assembly-line 1965 Ford Mustang. It was meant to accommodate a growing family; they brought their daughter Nicole home from the hospital in it that same year. Thirty-three years later, Nicole brought her own son, Nate, home from the hospital in it as well.
Although it remained in Vivien and Larry’s hands, the car eventually stopped running and stayed in the garage. The couple was waiting for one of their grandsons to express an interest in restoring it, and in 2014 that grandson was Nate. The day he inherited it was “one of the happiest days of his life” says Nicole. Later that year he began restoring it, as he promised. “And this is where life gets funny” says his mom. While starting to work on it, the athletic Nate became more and more fatigued. Soon afterward he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
A few months into treatment, his medical team at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital asked Nate if he had thought about Make-A-Wish. “But I’m going to be fine” Nate responded. He asked them to give his wish to a kid who really deserves it. But his team convinced him that he was the one who deserved it, and he started thinking—would they help me restore my Mustang? Says Nicole “During the worst part of treatment, during the nausea, endless chemo, procedures and exhaustion, all Nate would say is ‘the Mustang’ and a big smile would creep across his face. It was all he could talk about.”
Enter “an angel named Doug.” Doug offered to take the Mustang, now in pieces, and completely restore it. He and his son came to tow it back to Doug’s shop, and Doug would send Nate pictures on Facebook to show the progress he was making. Last October Nate’s family tricked him into visiting his grandparents so they could surprise him with the car. It was parked a few blocks away, with balloons and a giant bow attached to it. Nate was finally able to fulfill his dream of driving it down his grandparents block, and the Mustang looked as dazzling as the day they had brought it home.