Jacob, 15, thought he was in Traverse City for an appointment with a new kidney doctor. When he walked into Hagerty’s office building and saw staff wearing Make-A-Wish® Michigan shirts, he knew something was going on. After a brief introduction, his family members pulled back a white linen to reveal his customized 1977 Chevy Scottsdale pickup truck. Jacob’s jaw dropped in awe at the sight of his sapphire blue truck.
“It’s really great,” Jacob said. “I’m quite in shock. It’s like a whole different truck – it looked nothing like this before. The floor had been ripped up, the gauges were broken, the speakers were all blown and the rearview mirror had fallen off in my hands when I tried to adjust it.”
The wish came to fruition thanks to Samantha Bonter, who was at a wish-granting volunteer training in Traverse City when she was approached by a Make-A-Wish Michigan staff member asking if she had any recommendations on companies that could help with a truck customization wish. As a classic car insurance company, Hagerty seemed like the perfect place to start. Including Hagerty, eight local businesses from the Traverse City community donated their services to make Jacob’s wish possible.
“I figured since we’re Hagerty and we live in the car world up here, we might be able to contribute and get other businesses to as well,” Bonter explained. “When I told them this was for Jacob and what his story was, nobody even had a second thought about it. I think the power of a wish is just seeing the community come together.”
Jacob’s journey began with his love for Chevy trucks. One day, Jacob came home from school and discovered that his stepdad, David, had bought the neighbor’s Chevy truck that Jacob had been eyeing for months. A few months later, Jacob was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“Originally, he was going to get a job,” David explained of how Jacob planned to refurbish the truck. “He had a list that he thought he was going to buy. He was going to work hard to make it happen. When this all came about with the cancer and then Make-A-Wish, that was one thing that popped into his mind to get his truck redone. That’s something that he’ll take care of and last a long time.”
When Jacob was first diagnosed 2 ½ years ago, he went through chemotherapy and radiation. A stem cell transplant followed, but scans still show activity. The customized truck is a welcome distraction from Jacob’s daily side effects from the chemo.
“It means everything,” Jacob’s mom, Alicia, said of Jacob’s customized truck. “I started crying right away because it’s very emotional. I don’t even know if words can tell you.”
His customized truck features shifters as skulls, the rearview mirror with flames and a sapphire blue paint job chosen in honor of his grandparents who recently passed away.
“It’s like they’ve known me my whole life,” Jacob said of the team that worked on his truck. “It’s just something I will always be able to remember. It’s something I can look back on for the rest of my life.”