One last ride: Volunteers restore classic Mustang for man dying of cancer
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, December 1, 2016 9:33PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 2, 2016 3:40PM EST
Rick Lamanes could not hold back the sheer joy on his face when he heard the deep rumble of his prized 1966 Ford Mustang for the first time.
The classic pony car was lovingly restored by dozens of volunteers who rushed to complete the job before cancer robs the 59-year-old of the strength to get behind the wheel.
Lamanes started work on the car 13 years ago. He was forced to stop halfway through the ground-up restoration after he was diagnosed with terminal stage four colon and liver cancer.
Now the Mustang is ready for the road thanks to a GoFundMe campaign started in July. The page has exceeded the $12,500 goal needed to fulfill Lamanes’ dream of driving the car, before it is too late.
“I remember sitting there early this spring and thinking we aren’t going to make it with this car,” he told CTV Edmonton. “I never really thought it would be possible.”
Lamanes and his family are not strangers to adversity. His wife Marcy has been battling ovarian cancer for 16 years. Rick, a heavy mechanic by trade, was injured on the job in 2006 and forced to fight to keep his modest pension and medical benefits.
“I will find out in January how well this last treatment has affected the cancer,” said Marcy of her husband. “It’s not going to go anywhere, we know that. It’s incurable. It’s inoperable.”
The Edmonton-area couple’s harrowing story has seen perfect strangers come together to wrench on the Mustang while Rick watches his dream car come to life between treatments.
“I see the car changing and Rick tells me seeing the car everyday makes him smile,” said volunteer Corey Lipka. “They are not just people I met. They are more like family.”
Lamanes is expecting to know more about the effectiveness of this treatment in January, which will give him a better idea of how much time he has left to cruise around with Marcy. Health issues forced the couple to put a road trip to the west coast on hold.
For now, Lamanes is focused on checking the dream of driving the Mustang off his bucket list.
“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s been worth every anxious minute waiting for it,” said Lamanes.
He burst out laughing as the car emerged from the shop and into the parking lot where friends and family gathered to applaud and capture the joyous moment on their smartphones.
“It was awesome. You’ll have to scrape me off the ceiling tonight,” said Lamanes from behind the wheel.
The outpouring of generosity has been an overwhelming experience for Lamanes, one that has inspired him to fight hard to stay on the road.
“There are too many reasons to be here,” he said. “I don’t want to go.”
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Dez Melenka