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Make-A-Wish surprises Newfield High cancer survivor with restored car

"We wanted to make this a memorable day," Make-A-Wish Foundation of Suffolk County President and CEO Karine Hollander said of Saturday's surprise. Credit: Danielle Silverman

High school cancer survivor Conor Wesch had one dream — to have the 2006 Chevrolet Impala SS car his grandfather gifted him brought back to life.

That dream came to fruition on Sept. 22, when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Suffolk County surprised him with the revamped automobile minutes before a football game at Newfield High School in Selden.

“It looks cool and I love it so much. It’s the greatest thing ever,” Wesch said.

Wesch, a 17-year-old senior at Newfield High, was referred to the foundation after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December.

But after five months of chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission.

“At first it felt like nobody knew what I was going through because nobody (my age) has really experienced it,” he said. “But I found out how much everyone cared and wanted to support.”

Initially Wesch’s wish was to take a trip to Hawaii. But he later changed his mind when the possibility of restoring the Chevy Impala his grandfather gave to him came up.

“The light bulb went off and I saw it in his eyes,” Make-A-Wish Foundation of Suffolk County president and CEO Karine Hollander said. “We wanted to make this a memorable day.”

Wesch obtained his driver’s license two months ago, and the silver car presented to him was covered with balloons and a red bow. Before being given to him, Hollander said the body of the vehicle was redone, carpet was added to the interior, it was repainted and new rims were added.

The first thing Wesch did once inside the vehicle was play with the radio and examine the new interior. Then he took it for a spin in and around the school grounds.

As a registered nurse, Conor’s mother, Allison Wesch, 43, has seen her share of patients, including those with cancer.

“But you never expect your child to have it,” she said. “You don’t really know what they’re going through until you have somebody you know going through it themselves.”

She said she and her son have faced many obstacles.

“Me and Conor have gone through some tough times,” Allison Wesch said, adding her son had health issues as a newborn that required two surgeries by the time he was nine months old.

Through it all, Allison Wesch said she remains proud of her son.

“He’s been through a lot, that kid. And he’s the happiest person of anyone I know,” she said. “It makes you understand what life is about.”

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