GEORGETOWN, Texas — Three years can be a long time to wait, especially for a teenager.
Georgetown 16-year-old Daniel Alcantara has been waiting for his dream car for that long. But now his wait is over.
A car repair shop is normally a noisy place, but on Friday, Caliber Collision in Georgetown was empty.
General Manager Chad Schulze had his workers on the other side of the building. The tools were down and the balloons were up for Alcantara.
"When we came around the corner, I was explaining to him, 'We'll see what they have to say,'" Shultz, who helped coordinate the surprise, said.
Alcantara was at Caliber Collision because of a program the shop does nationwide called "Recycled Rides." Normally, the program is for military members, but they made a special exception after hearing Alcantara's case.
"Today we've done something – I'm very proud of everybody and so many more in this room," a representative from Caliber Collision said.
Not knowing what was to come, Alcantara sat next to his sister and waited for the announcement from his mentor, who he calls "Coach."
Then a car beeped.
"Daniel, your dad's truck," Coach said.
Alcantara and his sister held onto each other, crying, as the restored truck came through the garage door.
"I don't think until he saw the truck that he realized it was a reality," Schultz said afterward.
Now you might be wondering: Why is this so special? Eight years ago, Alcantara's father died, along with his mother. He then moved to Texas from Florida.
Three years ago, the car was involved in a crash and wasn't able to be driven without costly repairs.
That's where Coach came in. She let the right people know about the car, and they coordinated with Caliber Collision to get it involved in the Recycled Rides program.
Four hundred man-hours later, the car was refinished and restored to its 2004 glory.
"It's special because my dad had it. My dad drove it," Alcantara said. "I had a lot of memories with it...I felt like I was seven years old again."
This is the first time he has ever been able to truly be behind the wheel. He's still working on getting his learner's permit but works at his high school's shop class. Cars have always been a big part of his life.
"It was amazing, just starting it up," Alcantara said. "I remember when my dad first started it up. It felt nice, just hearing it again after three years."
Caliber Collision also extended him a job offer if he'd like it, then handed over the keys so that he could keep the memory of his dad with him all the time.
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