Anthony Bren gets his wishThe smile on Anthony Bren’s face revealed his excitement when he walked into the Dickinson High School shop to see his newly restored 1967 Ford 150 truck.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
The smile on Anthony Bren’s face revealed his excitement when he walked into the Dickinson High School shop to see his newly restored 1967 Ford 150 truck.
Amid the cheers from his family and friends, Bren took ownership of the truck that was restored through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota.
Anthony is the son of Jeanette Bren and Randall Bren. He was granted a wish during treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma — a rare cancer which can be found in bone or soft tissue. While Anthony knew his wish would be granted, he didn’t know when.
“I was kind of suspicious — people were acting weird around me,” he said.
A senior at DHS, Anthony was asked by his welding teacher to help with a school project on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 2.
Walking into the room, he said, “I was in awe. I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
The restoration work was done through Jimmy Mack Customs.
“I thought they did a phenomenal job — it exceeded my expectations. It’s everything I asked for and more.”
The truck has special meaning to Anthony.
“My dad bought it when I was young. We took it camping,” he said.
Now that it’s restored, he said it will be taken out only on nice days.
“It’s not getting driven to school or parked in the parking lot. It’s my baby,” he said.
Anthony expressed his appreciation to everyone who was involved with the project — his family, Make-A-Wish and those who did the restoration.
Jeanette was the first to get a hug from Anthony when he walked through the door.
“I was happy for my child,” she said.
“(A wish) gives them hope, it gives them strength, it gives them a reason to smile in the most difficult of situations,” she said. “Even the strongest of us need hope and a reason to smile.”
While Anthony may have appreciated the black paint job and the motor under the hood, Jeanette saw more.
“It’s the love in the truck that makes it so beautiful and that’s what people see,” she said.
In appreciation, Jeanette plans to become a Make-A-Wish volunteer.
“I will make a difference in the cancer world,” she said. “I want to become a wish-granter — I can’t wait to make a child smile because I know exactly what they’re going through.”
Anthony was diagnosed Feb. 6, 2008. He went through 14 rounds of chemotherapy, a month of radiation and six surgeries, she said.
“Now he’s in remission and we pray because Ewing’s does spread,” she said.
Good has come out of the experience.
“We have developed so many friends — we can never have enough,” she said.
Jimmy Mack Customs, owned by Jim and Angie Mackey, started working on the truck eight months ago.
“We stripped it down to the actual frame and everything up,” said Angie.
Jimmy Mack Customs did the body work, frame-up restoration and interior work (except seat), and donated the mechanical work to the family.
In addition, Angie listed nine businesses who provided discounts, donations or labor toward the restoration effort — everything from the custom-built box, balancing the wheels and sandblasting, to the wiring, exhaust work, shortening the drive shaft and discounts on stereo equipment and parts.
“We were all so focused to Anthony getting his wish,” said Angie. “Jim actually has the same pickup he’s been working on the past 10 years, so he’s really excited to work on his after doing Anthony’s.”
Kelly Braun, volunteer and member of the board of directors for Make-A-Wish, said, “I was overjoyed to be able to see Anthony’s reaction.”
Braun is a member of the Noon Lions Club, which sponsors a Make-A-Wish benefit every year.
“We adopt the wishes out of this area,” he said “The Make-A-Wish Dickinson volunteer team discovers what the children’s wishes are and we make contacts to make the wish happen.”
He also gave credit to the Morgan Kolling family as a main sponsor for Anthony’s wish.
He said the next Make-A-Wish benefit is March 12 at the Dickinson Eagles Club. Last year’s benefit raised more than $41,000.
“We’ve been fortunate the community has supported us,” he said.
Representing the Make-A-Wish Foundation at the presentation were Kayla Foltz, director of program services, and Sharon Mazaheri, president and CEO.
It was an opportunity for them to meet Anthony, to see the wish unveiled and to meet the volunteers, said Foltz.
“We grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses — to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy,” she said.
The granting of another wish is planned next spring — a Dickinson student wants to go on an Alaskan cruise, Foltz said.
“We get referrals from parents, guardians and the medial profession,” she said. “Doctors sign a form certifying they qualify and we go from there.”
Funding comes from benefits such as the one sponsored by the Noon Lions Club, as well as individuals and corporations.
“Another way we receive funds to grant wishes is through in-kind donations — (frequent-flyer) miles are a really big thing because we have lots of travel wishes,” she said.
For more information, visit the foundation’s website at www.wish.org and enter a zip code in the “find your local chapter” box.