Teen Who Battled Cancer Gives Back to Make-A-Wish
Eli Koppenhaver was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 13. Around the same time as his diagnosis, his great uncle, Gerald Zinn, passed away and left Eli his old 1974 white Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. The car was in pretty bad shape and it was put in the garage until Eli and his father, Jeff, could get around to restoring it. However, their plans were put on hold due to Eli’s condition.
Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening conditions, reached out to Eli and asked him if he had a wish - something special he wanted. After some consideration, he said that he wanted his late uncle’s Trans Am to be restored. It was his dream to one day take his driver’s license in it.
Make-A-Wish then reached out to Midwest Rod & Custom, an auto body shop in Minnesota, about the car. For the guys who made their living restoring cars for others, it was a no brainer to help make a young man’s wish come true. “We wouldn’t be able to grant wishes without generous donors and people like Midwest Rod and Custom and Gateway Chevrolet and many other generous donors, we just wouldn’t be able to grant wishes without them” said Kayla Pederson, database manager at Make-A-Wish Foundation.
It took a total of 7 men and 600 hours to restore the car from bumper to bumper. What would have taken up to a year to do, took the hard workers two months.
Read on to learn more about Eli's story.