SWANTON — As the cold rain dripped off the roof at Charbonneau’s Body Shop, small crowds of people trickled into the open garage bay, awaiting a dark indigo 2011 Scion Tc arriving for the ultimate makeover.
Driving the car was Swanton’s own 17-year-old Jack Sweatt, Make-A Wish Vermont’s newest wish recipient, who was about to hand over his pride and joy to be transformed into his dream car.
“I thought it was a great idea, honestly,” said shop owner Mark Charbonneau. “I love projects, I love doing something like this non-collision work, I think it’s really interesting. So once I found out it was for Make-A-Wish, we were just all in. We’re all pretty excited.”
Office manager James Rogers said when Larose came in on one of his normal visits several weeks ago, he mentioned to his mechanics that there was a local whose wish was about to come true.
But he needed their help.
“He said, ‘Would you guys be doing this as well?’” Rogers said. “He showed me the pictures, showed me what it was and I said, ‘Sounds good to me!’”
After they all talked it through, Charbonneau’s Body Shop was on board to be the handsmiths about to make a young man’s car into a work of art.
“He is so happy,” said Krista Farrar, Sweatt’s mom. “He is ecstatic, this means everything to him ... He and his friends talk about their cars all the time.”
Last August, Sweatt finally had enough money to go out and buy his very first car: a 2011 Scion Tc.
“He loves his car,” said Sweatt’s mother Krista Farrar. “If he had the option of keeping that one or getting something totally brand new, he would keep that one. It’s his baby.”
Sweatt bought the car originally for its style, but also to customize it and make it something of his own — and for Christmas, Sweatt received some brand new aftermarket rims to help customize his ride.
Farrar said it was just before Christmas that they got the call that their son had cancer. Then the Monday after, they were informed that their son had stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Through all of the treatments and everything he’s had to go through, Sweatt’s courage had never once faltered, and Farrar said he was always determined to simply get the job done.
So in a little over a month, the town will be seeing a sweet, customized new set of wheels cruising Swanton streets.
“It’s a rocketbody kit,” Rogers said. “I know the car scene very well, I’ve been into cars for the last 20 years or so ... it may not take very long but it depends on how the car looks, how the body looks, how the body kit comes in, how much we actually have to shape it to the car itself. Because there’s a lot of cutting, fitting, dry fitting, and then shaving if we have to. It’s going to look awesome.”
Lighting will stay the same but Sweatt’s wheel wells will be larger with spacing to make room for bigger wheels. They are looking at possible new paint colors for the outside, but the suspension will largely remain the same to make room for Vermont’s beloved snow drifts.
“We could do some LED lights in the arches ... while we’re doing it, we might as well go all in,” Charbonneau said. “We’re going to fix everything so it looks like a brand new car, and then ... we’ll go from there.”