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Hot wheels: Make-A-Wish Foundation and Federal Way auto shop remodel teen's ride | SLIDESHOW
Daniel Johnson had big plans for souping up his 1993 Nissan 240sx when he suddenly became ill.
In October, Johnson was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare form of cancer involving a malignant tumor on the brain stem. The two-year survival rate is less than 20 percent.
The cancer prevented Johnson, 16, from working on his car. With the help of local volunteers, the Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up with Bob Bjorneby’s CARSTAR Federal Way Collision to turn Johnson's goal into a reality. The auto shop tracked down donations for parts and supplies, then overhauled the red vehicle from top to bottom — including a paint job, new upholstery and white rims. After almost a month of work, the shiny black roadster was unveiled in a celebration Dec. 30 at Bjorneby's.
"It blows all expectations out of the water," Johnson said from the driver's seat, gazing at the Ferrari steering wheel and black interior. As Bob Bjorneby playfully observed: "I don't think Daniel's leaving tonight."
When he's able to drive again, the Todd Beamer High School junior simply wants to drive to school.
"It was something to look forward to," he said of his car. "Now it's something to look at."
Within a week after the onset of symptoms last fall, Johnson went from running a few miles a day to hardly being able to walk.
"It came on suddenly," said Ed Flanigan, his dad. Johnson has shown signs of improvement following radiation treatment, and has regained enough strength to take regular walks.
"I want him to have his life back," said Johnson's mother, Robin Flanigan. "I'm really grateful that there are so many people with such huge love in their hearts to step up and help somebody they don't even know."
Johnson and his brother, Connor Flanigan, picked out all the parts for the remodeled car.
"He doesn't smile as much since getting sick, but he really lit up when he saw the car," Connor said, looking forward to the day his brother can drive again. "This is going to keep him fighting."
Bjorneby's holds an annual golf tournament to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Co-owner Linda Bjorneby was first touched by Make-A-Wish after her nephew successfully battled leukemia.
"The more attention they get for the wonderful things they do," she said, "the better."