Anthony Bren's wish is coming true
A wish is coming true for Anthony Bren, 17, of Dickinson, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota.
Bren, a junior at Dickinson High School, is in remission for Ewing's Sarcoma, a tumor that started in his muscle tissue and metastized into the lungs.
"It attacks teenage boys mostly and is fast-growing. Anthony grew 4 inches (in height) in that year," said his mother, Jeanette Bren.
Because it is a life-threatening disease, Anthony was eligible to be granted his wish -- restoration of a 1967 Ford F100 side-step short box.
The vehicle belonged to his dad, Randall, who originally paid $600 for it.
"That's what I learned to drive a manual on," said Anthony. "Then when Make-A-Wish came along, I didn't know what I wanted to ask for. So I asked my dad for the truck to get it restored and he gave it to me."
The truck was recently taken to Jimmy Mack Customs for the restoration.
Jeanette, who is a single mom, purchased another truck just like the '67 Ford for the parts.
"They're going to use the good parts off the truck," she said. "It's exactly like his, except the long box. They're going to take the engine out of it because Anthony wanted it a little more souped up."
Anthony could have asked for any number of wishes, but chose the vehicle.
"I love cars in general," he said.
"He was born knowing vehicles," added Jeanette. "He'd be 3 years old and sitting in the bicycle seat naming off cars -- that's a Ford, that's a Camero. It's a natural instinct."
Anthony is hopeful the pickup is finished by this summer -- in time to have his high school graduation photos taken with it.
"When it's done, it's going to be like jet black or oil-slick black," he said. "It's going to have some chrome on it. They're going to replace the wood planks. It's going to be lowered and have some nice wheels on it."
"It will have a crème and black interior," added Jeanette.
Anthony was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma Feb. 6, 2008.
"I didn't have any symptoms," he said. "I just had a lump on my shoulder."
A chiropractor referred Anthony to a physician, who recognized the symptoms. A CT scan confirmed the diagnosis.
Referred to Mayo Clinic, Anthony went through chemotherapy lasting four or five days at a time, every two weeks for a year at Rochester and Bismarck. He also went through a month of radiation because the cancer had spread to the lungs.
"It didn't go to the bone marrow, thank goodness," said Jeanette. "He has three nodules left in his lung that are dormant. It's a sneaky cancer. These are dormant cells -- they could attack somewhere else."
The Brens learned about Make-A-Wish while they were in Rochester, Minn.
"It's been a long process for his wish," said Jeanette.
She explained the first wish granter visited them in 2008., Because the parts were rusted, the board thought it would be too difficult to restore.
"They thought Anthony wanted everything original. No, he wanted a hot rod made out of a pickup," she said. "A new wish-granter came on board and that got the ball rolling again."
The Brens have some funds dedicated toward Anthony's wish, thanks to the fundraising efforts of an 8-year-old friend, Morgan, who was granted her wish for a Disney trip before she died.
"She earned a lot of money for Make-A-Wish and one of her wishes was to have Anthony get his truck," said Jeanette. "Morgan's name will be put on the pickup."
With the help of Morgan's donation and locally donated vehicle parts, the restoration will be completed, said Jeanette.
"Sometimes, these sick kids need something to look forward to. It gets them through each day of the treatment," said Jeanette. "They are not feeling well, and who better knows than a Make-A-Wish kid -- to help with another wish."
"There were times when I just wanted to pull the plug," remembers Anthony.
"He would look at me and said 'I'm done.' For what these kids go through they really, really deserve a wish of their dreams," said Jeanette.
Talking with the Make-A-Wish representative, Jeanette made it clear, "I would have loved a trip, but no, it's not my wish. His wish is a pickup -- this wish is going to last a lifetime."
With remission, Anthony is on the path toward his career of becoming a welder. He is studying welding at high school, and will participate in the Skills USA competition April 19. He wants to enroll in a welding school in Seattle after graduation.
Jeanette has set a goal for herself, as well.
"I personally would like to become a wish-granter. I want to make a difference in the cancer world. If I can help a child and family, that's what I would like to do -- to put a smile on their faces."
They expressed their appreciation to the many people who have assisted them in the journey toward recovery.
Referencing a previous benefit, Jeanette said, "The account took us through two years -- that was just amazing."
They were able to stay at Ronald McDonald houses in Rochester and Bismarck.
"We couldn't have done it without the Ronald McDonald House -- it's truly an amazing place," she said.
"And all my nurses at MedCenter One," added Anthony.
"It wasn't their job, it was their passion. They took care of my son like he was their child," added Jeanette.
Anthony's remission is monitored by checkups every three months.
"In May we go to Bismarck and in August, we will be at Rochester," said Jeanette.
Anthony and Jeanette plan to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation by attending the upcoming benefit on Saturday at the Eagles Club. They're hopeful Anthony's brother, Christopher, his sister, Cassandra and her son, Ethan, also can attend.
To read more of Anthony's story, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/anthonybren.