Auto repair shop helps grant Idaho woman's wish for wheels

Idaho Life: A wish for wheels

Thanksgiving is next week, marking the beginning of the holiday season, the time usually associated with family, friends, and an appreciation of what we have. Here's a story that may jumpstart those feelings. A story of how one broken down car carries so much meaning for one Idaho woman.

Heritage Auto Repair in Meridian has a lot of cars come through it's shop.

"A lot of cars, yeah," said Tony Zanders, owner of the auto shop. "300-plus a month."

Brandon Jensen, a mechanic just a year-and-a-half on the job, has worked on his share of those cars.

"Oh, yeah," Brandon agreed.

Today he's wrapping up a repair on an SUV.

"Oh, I'm just checking all the belts, making sure I got 'em all tight," said Brandon.

It came in with a busted timing belt.

"Snapped in half and shredded it," Brandon described it.

That type of damage usually falls outside an owner's budget and that would usually mean a death sentence for a 1995 Isuzu Rodeo. But this one is different.

A meticulous mechanic already, Brandon knows this car is more than just a machine.

"'Cause I know the story on this one," said Brandon. "And I know where it's going to and why it's going there."

"I'm just tired today. I'm extra tired," said Lisa Eisenbarth.

Lisa has been more tired lately. That's because her body has been beaten by cancer.

"Well, at first it's hard to believe because you don't feel sick," said Lisa, recalling when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2013.

Lisa has been battling cancer for the last three years. But on September 26 Lisa was given about 4 to 6 months to live after the disease took over her colon, her liver, her lungs, and her stomach.

"It doesn't hurt like a cut or something but it feels like my body is at war," said Lisa.

Lisa is 56 and spent a good number of those years working on pipelines and living in almost every state in the country.

"We're in one of our travel trailers cause we pulled a travel trailer pipelining a lot," said Lisa, showing pictures of her days on the job site.

But the 6th-generation Idahoan and her 19-year-old daughter, Kalee, moved back last summer. Most days are spent at her sister's home in Star, letting the 14 daily medications she takes help her deal with her dying body.

"Like just this week, I got really tired and I thought, 'When am I going to get my energy back?' And then I realized, I'm not getting it back, you know?"

Now two months into her death sentence she has things she wants to do.

"Yeah, I want to go see some people. Because, otherwise, I'm not going to see them before I die."

Lisa wants to drive around Idaho visiting family and friends she hasn't seen in years.

Like her long-time friend, Cheryl.

"We used to be thick as thieves back in the day and I just can't wait to see her smiling face," said Lisa.

One problem: the car Lisa's daughter drove her around in, broke down for good back in August.

That's where Kelly Gibbons comes in.

"Rick has cancer and wished to ride a horse one more time, Roy has heart disease and wished to have a friend fly in and see him. Lisa has cancer..." 

These are the kind of things Kelly, reading from her list of wishes, carries around with her.

From her one-desk, one-room office in Boise, Kelly is the lone employee for Wish Granters of Idaho, a non-profit that helps those with a terminal illness do one last thing before they die.

Last year they granted 52 wishes. Kelly says while some want to travel, the majority are wishes for those left behind.

"We've planted trees, we have built retaining walls in backyards, we've created patios with a waterfall," said Kelly. "We've re-roofed a home."

Pretty selfless solicitations, that sometimes can come together pretty quickly.

"All within about a week, week and a half, yeah."

Tony Zanders says Wish Granters called him looking for a car just about the same time a friend just happened to ask what to do with an old car. Roy knew what to do.

"We have been given so much and when we see somebody in desperate need, oh my goodness, how easy is it to share we're so thankful to be part of that," said Tony.

So now this old Isuzu, that has been pushed past 125,000 miles, will add a few more to the odometer.

"For these people, giving me this car there are no words," said Lisa. "It's just...it's such a good thing."

Lisa will begin her final odyssey next week in Weiser with her father for Thanksgiving.

"Yeah, I just want to hug him, tell him I love him," said Lisa, describing how her dad's legs have limited his mobility.

All because of a simple wish.

"I'm very happy that's the wish I used," said Lisa. "I wouldn't change it for the world."

Lisa says she plans to drive day trips until she has visited all of her family and friends in Idaho, driving as far as Coeur d'Alene in the next couple of months.

Wish Granters of Idaho, by the way, is run entirely by donations.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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