On a spring afternoon in April, the day before her 16th birthday, Alyssa got her 1998 Jeep Wrangler back from Steve’s Jeep Country. It was detailed, fully loaded, and customized. The big reveal of her “new” Jeep was shared by friends, family, and one hundred or so other Jeep enthusiasts. This wasn’t a birthday present; this was her wish granted by Make-A-Wish New Hampshire. Alyssa, a sophomore at Pinkerton Academy, is recovering from thyroid cancer.
When Make-A-Wish approached Steve’s Jeep Country in Epsom, New Hampshire to see if they could help make Alyssa’s wish a reality, Steve himself quickly agreed and pulled together members of the local Jeep community, like the off road clubs of Wicked Jeeps of New Hampshire. Bank Chevrolet provided a new paint job with custom detailing. Rough Country supplied a suspension lift kit. And many local auto parts stores pitched in as Steve’s crew worked late nights to get Alyssa’s Jeep ready for the day Alyssa’s wish would come true.
As Steve’s crew drove the Jeep through the crowd stopping in front of Alyssa, people whooped and cheered, encouraging Alyssa to “Get on in!” and “Smell the new cah (car) smell!“ Alyssa, getting more comfortable with all the attention, posed for pictures in the driver seat of her new Jeep. Members of the crowd handed her gas gift cards, a bonus surprise, inspired by Alyssa, herself, and unbeknownst to Make-A-Wish. Certainly, some people remembered what it was like to be sixteen and to get behind the wheel of a “tripped-up ride,” and to discover the new-found freedom of driving. For the first time in a long time, Alyssa truly got a healthy dose of hope, optimism, and pure excitement for the future. “I’m so overwhelmed,” Alyssa said. “It’s amazing!”
Alyssa, assisted by a police escort, ended the day by leading a 100-Jeep caravan through the curvy back roads of nearby New Hampshire towns. Jeeps beeped and flashed their lights. Passerbys waved. Watching this endless stream of Jeeps, some may have been bewildered, others may have sensed something important was happening. And indeed it was: Alyssa was in the driver’s seat, heading towards open road, with a seemingly infinite line of Jeeps and an entire community behind her.