Teen’s dream comes true thanks to auto shop

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) — When Matthew Doss was asked to make a wish, he didn’t want something extravagant like meeting a celebrity or visiting an exotic location. He just wanted somebody to paint his pickup truck, but he got much more this past Wednesday when his wish came true.

Doss, a 17-year-old Clay County resident who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was asked by Make-A-Wish what he would like to wish for, Regional Manager Jo Beth Smith said. Doss had recently finished cancer treatments and was doing well. Make-A-Wish grants wishes by offering experiences that bring happiness back into lives and mark a turning point in battles against medical conditions.

When Doss decided that he wanted to get his ’94 Chevy Silverado repainted, he started looking around on the internet and found 4 Wheel Mike’s near Princeton. He liked the examples he saw and contacted owner Michael Ray.

“I have a business Facebook page,” Ray said before Doss arrived for the unveiling. “I put some of my work on there. He saw me and said he liked what I did better than anybody else he come across, and he asked me if I’d be interested in doing his truck for him, that Make-A-Wish was going to try and make this happen and that’s how we went.”

When Ray received Doss’s pickup truck, he decided to do more than just paint it.

“He thought he was just getting a paint job, and I took it upon myself to make sure the truck was a lot better,” Ray recalled.

And what was done for the truck?

“Pretty much everything,” Ray replied.

Ray started contacting businesses locally and across the region to get help with finding the services and parts needed to make the Chevy pickup something truly special. Businesses that helped make the wish come true included: Carolina Custom & Trim; Auto Custom Carpets, Inc.; Wheel Pros; Liberty Pre-Owned; Advance Auto Parts; Kelly Morton Kidd, Inc.; Loud N Clear; Barlow’s Window Tinting; Safelite Auto Glass; and Ramey Auto Group.

Employee Gary Sanders at 4 Wheel Mike’s said they took the truck apart, worked on the engine, and even repaired the damage a rear-end collision inflicted on the truck’s bed. Ray said the paint used for the truck’s new, sparkling purple finish and flames cannot be bought off the shelf. And it was not a project that was done over a weekend.

Ray estimated that the transformation took a total of two months of work; and that was 10 hours a day, every day, with no weekends off.

Doss and his family were asked to turn around when they arrived. The truck was driven out of the garage. Doss turned to see his transformed pickup truck, and the grinning and disbelief started.

“Perfect,” he replied when asked what he thought about the change. “He did more than just repaint it. New wheels, tires, all the interior.”

A Clay County High School parking tag was hanging from the truck’s rearview mirror. Doss was sure that his classmates would love the transformation, too.

To complete the wish, a trooper with the West Virginia State Police Princeton detachment escorted Doss while he drove his truck through Princeton and back to Interstate 77 for the drive home.