Costa Mesa auto shop puts the pedal to the metal to grant local Make-A-Wish request
Since the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted its first request in 1980, from a 7-year-old boy with leukemia who wanted to be a police officer, more than half a million requests have come into the organization’s many local chapters.
With recipients’ ages running from 2½ to 18, many wishes center around trips to theme parks, shopping sprees or meetings with celebrities.
But Rancho Santa Margarita resident Moses Suarez — diagnosed with leukemia in 2020 at 18 years of age — recently sent out a much simpler request. He asked whether Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire might help restore a 2007 Ford Mustang that was near and dear to his heart.
Passed down from his mother, the car needed a paint job, new interior and some serious body work. The hood had opened during travel and buckled the roof, forcing Moses to have to enter the vehicle from the passenger side door or the driver’s side window.
Moses’ wish landed in the office of Alison Enoka, general manager of Fix Auto Costa Mesa, a body shop and collision repair center on Paularino Avenue. Enoka found herself on the receiving end of a cold call from Make-A-Wish representatives looking to partner with a local business to make the teen’s wish come true.
“My understanding was this was a bit of an out-of-box mission for them,” she recalled. “They weren’t sure how to make it happen and were reaching out to local collision centers to see if anyone was at least interested in looking at the vehicle.”
It turns out, Enoka had a soft spot for the foundation. Her grandson, who had hypoplastic left heart syndrome four years ago, at age 9, was granted a wish to travel to Disneyworld. When she called company leaders to see what could be done, they were on board.
In a small ceremony Friday outside the Costa Mesa repair shop, Fix Auto members unveiled the result of their restoration and repair efforts, handing the keys back to an appreciative Suarez, now 20.
Inspired by the cause, the team went all out — even equipping the Mustang with a new stereo system. Enoka explained how Juarez had so loved his mother’s car as a boy, he begged her not to sell it but someday pass it down to him. It was a hardship for the single mom, but she made it happen.
“That was the part that really touched my heart,” Enoka said Monday. “It took two months and a lot of work. [But] it was divine intervention, across the board.”
Gloria Jetter Crockett, president and chief executive of Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire, said the partnership between foundation members and area businesses and organizations is a crucial component of the group’s work.
“Our organization relies on community support to continue to bring hope to kids battling critical illnesses across Orange County and the Inland Empire,” she said in a statement. “We are so thankful for the willingness and support of Fix Auto Costa Mesa to grant Moses’ wish.”
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