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MAHONING VALLEY Revving up a dream of an auto



Published: Mon, January 7, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Area businesses and the Make-a-Wish Foundation are joining forces to restore a vintage Chevy.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

LORDSTOWN -- Years before he could drive, Victor Ramey dreamed of owning a car like his dad's -- a 1962 Chevy.

"My dad used to drag race, and he always drove some type of '62 Chevy," Ramey said.

By chance, the boy spotted an old Chevy station wagon in the yard behind a house in his neighborhood.

Although he was only in the seventh grade, Ramey bought the car, planning to restore it in time for his 16th birthday, when he'd be old enough to get his driver's license.

"I like pickup trucks and station wagons," he said. The 1962 Chevy Bel Air wagon that he bought for $1,600 could be a dream come true -- if he put a lot of work into it.

"I had a really good start on it. I had it running. My dad drove it around -- I wasn't old enough to drive. Then I got sick, and my dad had a heart attack," he said.

Ramey was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a malignant disorder of the lymph nodes and glands; his father underwent bypass surgery.

Because of their health problems, neither has been able to continue with the restoration project.

Intervention: When the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, heard about Ramey, now 19, the organization vowed to make his dream come true.

No one in Columbus, where Ramey lives, would agree to sponsor the restoration, said Susan McConnell, Make-a-Wish president and chief executive officer. But "the people in this town," she said, referring to the Mahoning Valley and Northeast Ohio, "just opened their hearts."

Stepping in: General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant, United Auto Workers Local 1112 and the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center volunteered to restore the car. Summit Racing Equipment, Akron; Pro Car Race Shop Inc., Columbiana; the Automotive Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio; and the Towing and Recovery Association of Ohio, Region 4 are among the businesses that agreed to donate parts, paint, supplies and towing services.

So far, "a couple dozen" GM employees and UAW members have volunteered to work on the car with high school students at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, reported Joe Breneman of UAW Local 1112, a Make-a-Wish volunteer. The high school students will work on the car as a class project.

"Our people really enjoy sharing their skills and expertise with young people and the community," said Maureen E. Midgley, manager of the assembly plant.

The car's been on display in the auto assembly plant since Wednesday.

Restoration is expected to be done by Aug. 23, when the finished car will be unveiled at the assembly plant in conjunction with a car show, proceeds of which will benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

kubik@vindy.com




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