Car Fanatic Gets Gift of a Lifetime

By Anna Yee

February 23, 2011 Updated Feb 23, 2011 at 11:24 PM CDT

Stepping inside Rich's garage, it's not hard to tell he's a big fan of cars.

But what you can't see is that he's battling an advanced stage of cancer.

"What I have regular chemo doesn't work," said Rich Smith, of Bloomington. "Radiation doesn't work. There's a lot of unknowns. I have kidney cancer that has spread to my lungs."

Rich says he was diagnosed almost 2 years ago.

After multiple operations and loads of medication. He's regained some strength, but he's never lost his love for cars-- especially one of them.

"I've always wanted a '69 black, 440, 4-speed charger," said Smith.

Before he was diagnosed with cancer, Rich bought an unassembled charger... started putting it together... but couldn't finish the job. That's when family and his friends stepped in.

"We all got together one day with his son, Nick," said Jeff Klawitter, Rich Smith's friend, "and said 'We got to get this car done for him. We can't have it sitting out. He's come this close to his dream, and we're not going to let it stop.'"

Now, that dream is a reality. All that's left to do is start the engine.

"Soon as it quits snowing and raining, I can't wait to drive it," said Smith.

Rich still has a couple more cancer treatment options.

In the meantime, he's got his dream car by his side... and the people who'll always stand beside him.

"Words will never describe how thankful I am," said Smith.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.