Auburn teen receives a makeover ride of his dreams

The widely used pickup truck just had to stay in the family, but the generational, hand-me-down jalopy desperately needed a makeover.

The widely used pickup truck just had to stay in the family, but the generational, hand-me-down jalopy desperately needed a makeover.

Garrett Light got his wish.

A work party of generous volunteers and supporting shops went to work restoring the 2000 Mazda B3000, which was officially unveiled to the teen’s surprise at an Auburn Mountainview High School pep assembly last Friday afternoon.

“I’m stunned. This is so sweet,” said Garrett, 18, a senior student and Lions golfer who is winning his own fight with bone cancer. “This is really how I envisioned it to be. I’m excited. It’s awesome.”

The truck overhaul came compliments of CARSTAR Federal Way Collision and Make-A-Wish Foundation, which celebrated its second annual World Wish Day, a global celebration of wish granting.

For 25 years, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska and Washington has brought hope, strength and joy to more than 4,500 area children through its wish-granting process. This year, the local chapter will grant 321 wishes.

Garrett was on the list.

The popular Garrett is strong, resilient, compassionate and introspective, qualities he remarkably maintains in the throes of battling cancer, an insidious disease that has jolted his Auburn family for far too long.

Colorectal cancer claimed Garrett’s father nine years ago at the age of 44. Gary Light was an inspirational man, a devoted husband, a caring dad, and an award-winning restaurant manager who hired and worked with the disabled.

And now, Garrett is waging his own war with a rare form of bone cancer – Ewing’s sarcoma. On March 1, 2010, doctors found a malignant, round-cell tumor in his right tibia. Last June, surgery removed the tumor. Following weeks of chemotherapy and treatment, Garrett has cleared a major hurdle. He has been in remission since Oct. 19.

“I’m doing great. I’m feeling as good as I felt before,” said Garrett, who no longer needs a cane to support his gait.

“I’m not hitting the (golf) ball quite as far, but it’s nice just being out there,” he added. “They just get me a golf cart and I just go.”

When first asked what he would wish for, Garrett originally thought about a vacation to Hawaii. But he quickly changed his mind. Why not make every little drive he takes feel like a vacation?

Garrett inherited the truck from his grandfather, Ken Light, who passed away 1 1/2 years ago. The truck’s license plate reads, “HIPHIP,” part of the family’s slogan, “Hip hip hooray.”

“He was a really important person in my life,” Garrett said of his grandpa. “‘Hip hip’ is the one thing I wanted to keep.”

While Garrett took the wheel of grandpa’s “HIPHIP” truck, Garrett’s grandmother continues to drive a Subaru Baja with the “HOORAY” vanity plate.

“It’s just phenomenal,” said Jane Light as she watched her grandson’s expression at last week’s truck makeover unveiling. “I knew he would be surprised but had no idea he would be so overwhelmed.”

At the ceremony, the revitalized truck and its new coat of red paint glistened in the sun outside the school. As classmates looked on, a bewildered Garrett took the keys, climbed inside to fire up the engine, blare the horn and crank up the newly installed stereo.

The truck underwent an estimated $15,000 makeover, which included a stout front bumper grill bar, bed liner and tool box.

Life couldn’t be better for Garrett, who asked for the makeover but didn’t expect it to be done so soon.

“It’s amazing,” said Garrett’s mom, Robin, a teacher at nearby Rainier Middle School. “He was surprised. It’s beautiful.”

Garrett hasn’t decided whether to take the truck to Pullman come fall when he begins classes at Washington State University. He is considering a career in education or counseling.

“We just might keep it close to home,” Garrett said of the Mazda.

And close to those who mean so much to him.