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Garrett wished to go fast

“ "They said he was going ore than 100 mph," she said in a whisper, "and probably faster than that." ”

Sandra lowered her voice, just a bit, and looked away. Like any mother would, she shook her head at the way her 18-year-old son celebrated his new status as an adult.

In this case, Garrett took a joyride.

They said he was going more than 100 mph, she said in a whisper, and probably faster than that.

And then Sandra smiled.

"He said it was just so awesome," she said.

Sandra stood in the garage of World Class Driving in Las Vegas last Thursday and spoke with awe about the cars Garrett, a senior at Northridge High School, rode in, and, yes, drove, that week.

There was a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a Porsche, a GTR and a Corvette.

In this case, Thursday was a joyride for all of them.

Three years ago, Garrett was diagnosed with leukemia. The kind of ordeal that Sandra and husband John went through with Garrett would inspire extra kisses at bedtime from any parent.

Yet the chemotherapy and meds and the way Garrett felt like crap -- there really is no better way to describe it -- was not the worst of it. It was the way the illness snatched a painful chunk of his high school years away.

Garrett played football, but his illness wouldn't let him play for long. He couldn't even go four-wheeling, one of his passions, too often. And he loved cars, only he had to settle for seeing them at car shows.

At least he shared that with most boys. Who gets a chance to drive a Ferrari?

Garrett loved to go to those car shows and see the gleaming, twitching machines, like a housecat ready to pounce (it's no coincidence that some of the best are given names like Jaguar).

No one understood that as much as Sandra. John liked the cars just fine -- who doesn't -- but Sandra looked at them with a little bit of stardust in her eyes. Garrett got his love for cars from her, she said with a grin, not his father.

However, as hard as it seems to say it, the Hasches were lucky. The treatments worked. Garrett feels pretty good now. They expect results from the cancer screens soon and, based on the past year, they should be clear.

If they are, doctors will operate on Garrett to remove his port, essentially cutting the cord to the meds that made him miserable but saved his life.

He'll be free.

Garrett, of course, is not a kid any longer. So when it came time for his trip from the Make-A-Wish Foundation®, he didn't want a trip to Disney World®, by far the most common request. He wanted to drive a souped-up sports car more than 100 mph down the Autobahn, the highway in Germany with no speed limit.

Well, because the organization prefers to offer trips that celebrate lives, not end them, Make-A-Wish® had to turn down that request. But they could offer the next best thing.

Garrett would get a chance to race around a track with Exotics Racing. Then, the next day, he'd get a chance to ride in sports cars with his father.

Garrett knew the power of the cars. He'd seen it demonstrated at those car shows. Now he'd get a chance to feel it.

When he first climbed in the cockpit of the car on Wednesday with Exotics Racing, the track awaited, and yet he was a little nervous. He took the corners slow and stared at the speedometer, his mouth agape.

But the professional guides who rode with him told him to push it. Take that corner hard, they told him, even at 130 mph. Let the car throw you back in your seat. That's what these cars are for.

The next day, Thursday, Garrett didn't get behind the wheel at World Class Driving.

He's too young for that, even now, so John drove the sports cars with annual registration taxes that cost more than most economy cars.

They drove through Red Rock Canyon, a place so beautiful, so aptly named, that only Colorado's best spots would shame it.

"Every sports car has a different personality," said Darren Strahl, director of operations for World Class Driving. "They all do something better than all the others. You have to drive them all."

The trip was over Friday, a little too soon, but Garrett was thrilled, even awed, just like his mother.

World Class Driving and Exotic Racing have had Make-A-Wish® requests before, but they are rare.

Garrett, in fact, was only the second request for World Class since the company moved to Vegas about three years ago, Strahl said.

Then again, sadly, many of the Make-A-Wish kids are at an age when Mickey Mouse or various princesses are the greatest thing ever. Some don't make it to 18. This is why Make-A-Wish grants requests from kids with a critical illness, not just the ones who face a grim diagnosis, and a good portion of the trips, like Garrett's, are a party.

They celebrate a future. Garrett worked hard and he will graduate this May despite all the time he missed from Northridge. He plans to go to Aims Community College for a couple years. Colorado State University awaits him if he does well there.

No one appreciates a future more than the Hasches.

Even this Christmas, Garrett came down with pneumonia, and it was scary there for a bit.

But all those dark periods seem to be behind them, in the rear-view mirror, if you will. He turned 18 in March, and at the behest of the professionals on Wednesday, Garrett eventually did press down hard on the gas.

The car threw him back in his seat and sped him around the track, one without a finish line.

-- Staff writer Dan England covers the outdoors, entertainment and general assignment stories for The Tribune. His column runs on Tuesday.

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Make-A-Wish® Southern Nevada
9950 Covington Cross Dr.
Las Vegas, NV 89144
(702) 212-9474