The blindfold couldn’t come off quick enough for Carter Bessert.
As a Make-A-Wish recipient, the 17 year old hoped and dreamed he would be able to see his car, a Honda Civic Coupe, restored and refinished. On Saturday, the Silverdale teen’s wish came true as his family, friends and the team who fixed it looked on.
Attendees gathered around Bessert as he was blindfolded near the Maaco-Bremerton storefront while the shop owner drove the Honda out from its hiding spot. Bessert’s mother clutched her son’s arm, tears filling her eyes as a Make-A-Wish volunteer removed the blindfold.
Bessert looked at the green car with the racing stripe and large red bow in disbelief.
Then, he smiled.
“Sweet. This is perfect,” he said. “This is awesome. Thank you so much.”
Maaco-Bremerton owner Nick Pugh — who had never met the teen prior to the event — handed over the keys to Bessert before wrapping him in a bear hug.
Pugh and his team posed with Bessert next to the car after the teen was presented with an official Maaco jacket.
According to its website, Make-A-Wish grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. Every 38 minutes a wish is granted.
Bessert found out just a few days before Thanksgiving in 2012 that he had full renal failure. The teen was put on dialysis for six months. Exactly six months after he found out about the failure, he was offered a kidney transplant.
“We were not expecting that,” Bessert’s father, Jody Bessert said of the transplant. “This year has been crazy, to say the least.”
The family also didn’t expect that they would qualify for the Make-A-Wish program, which they found out about while their son was in Seattle Children’s Hospital. Both Jody and Dannelle Bessert thought the nonprofit was for little kids. Not for someone like their son.
After following up, the hopes of restoring the 1994 car seemed more attainable. Bessert had always wanted it resemble a Ben 10 muscle car.
Resemble it did.
The teen noticed even the smallest of details that were fixed.
“See that Honda symbol?,” he pointed at the front of the car. “That Honda symbol wasn’t there before.”
At 15, he bought the car for $500 from his brother who was going into the Navy. He couldn’t wait to fix it up, but his kidney failure got in the way of that. Local Make-A-Wish volunteers started asking around, and it seemed too difficult to find anyone willing to fix up the car that had leaky windows, no paint and soiled carpets.
But Pugh, the Macco Bremerton owner, saw the value in what Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington wanted to do for the local Central Kitsap student.
He had connections to get the dents out of the bumper and fender. He knew where to find the perfect sleek tires and tinted windows. Pugh had no doubt that a stereo system he had in mind would fit perfectly into Bessert’s first car.
“They couldn’t find anybody who would do it,” said Pugh. “I just made it work.”
Pugh and several others worked more than 100 hours ensuring every last detail was taken care of when it came to the teen’s wish. Saturday was Bessert’s first chance to meet the group who made his wish come true.
“This is so cool,” said Wendy Ricketts, Make-A-Wish volunteer. “He’s been dreaming of this car for years. They really went over and above.”
Even though the highlight of the day was watching the unveiling of the car, the family also wanted to encourage others to seriously look into donating organs.
The demand for organs from a living person are difficult as the matches aren’t as simple as it would seem. Both Bessert’s parents and his best friend hoped to be a match for the teen. All three could not qualify for one reason or another.
“The biggest thing I want people to know is to be a donor,” said Dannelle Bessert, his mother. “It is very hard to be a living donor.”
In 2012, there were 4,928 living donors who gave organs across the United States, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network website. Kidneys are the most needed organ, statesthe site.
Despite all the emotions the family felt during the unveiling, the biggest one was gratitude, they said.
“It’s kinda a family heirloom now,” said Jody Bessert. “We just can’t thank everybody enough.”
His son, grinning the whole time, agreed.
“Make-A-Wish is an amazing charity,” he said. “I think it’s just amazing.”