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Child fighting cancer gets hot-car wish

By By JACQUELINE ARMENDARIZ

EDINBURG, Texas (AP) — The engine of a black 1971 Monte Carlo revved while hydraulics made the classic car jump as 5-year-old Fernando Cruz sat in the driver's seat Tuesday evening.

The McAllen boy diagnosed with leukemia in November couldn't see over the steering wheel, but his joyful shouts were heard from across the parking lot. Several area car clubs — owners of Corvettes, Mustangs and other muscle cars — joined with the Make-A-Wish foundation at the Edinburg Children's Hospital to support Cruz.

Louie Mendez, of Traditionals Car Club, sat with the boy bouncing in the front seat of his car.

"It felt great," he said. "It was awesome. It hit me in the heart to see him so happy there turning the steering wheel. He got excited when I hit the motor."

Cruz lost his eyesight after he underwent an operation recently, making part of his wish to hear one of his favorite things — cars.

The Monitor of McAllen (http://bit.ly/11NihDB) reports that another part of the 5-year-old's wish came true when he was allowed to go outside once again and feel sunshine. Brought out by hospital staff, the boy's body hardly filled the wheelchair he sat in while wearing a medical mask.

Daniel Sanchez — a former member of Intocable, one of the boy's favorite groups — also sang to him as he stood swaying to the music.

The child, who will undergo several rounds of chemotherapy, tested out nearly all 20 of the cars on display as he held his mother's hand. Maria Cruz works two jobs, only seeing him during her free time, while his great-grandmother Margarita Cruz Rodriguez spends time with him at the hospital.

Through tears, his great-grandmother said the moment, and his happiness, were important as he continues to fight for his life.

"Who knows," she said of why he loves cars so much. "He's always been like that since he was small."

Ava Sandlin, executive director of the foundation's Rio Grande Valley chapter, said the boy's fragile health called for the quick organization of his wish. Plans were finalized within a week, she said.

With a fleet waiting to rev their engines at his command, the boy yelled in Spanish to kick off his wish:

"Start your cars!"

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Information from: The Monitor, http://www.themonitor.com

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