CLIFTON PARK Engines were roaring outside Cole’s Collision Center in Clifton Park on Wednesday as a crowd gathered for the unveiling of a 1983 Mustang GT convertible.
But this no ordinary Mustang.
The recipient of the car makeover was 17-year-old Zackary Hotaling, a Make-A-Wish teen and recent graduate of Duanesburg High School. Zackary bought the convertible after his 16th birthday and dreamed of souping it up, but it wasn’t until he was nominated for Make-A-Wish that he began to see his dream come to fruition.
From a young age, Zackary and his father worked together on cars in their backyard, and part of his wish was to be able to do most of the engine and body work on his own Mustang.
So Make-A-Wish of Northeast New York joined with Cole’s Collision, Burnt Hills Upholstery and the Adirondack Shelby-Mustang Club to make Zack’s dream a reality starting last July, when they dropped a truckload of parts off at his home in Delanson. He and his father worked tirelessly to complete the work necessary to get the car running and ready for body work provided by Cole’s.
Zackary, who is diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, has loved Mustangs from an early age. His mother, Audrey, joked that instead of playing the “ABC game” in the car, her children would try to spot Mustangs. “This is more than the reveal of his car. He had no idea this was happening today. He didn’t think for a second that the limousine outside his school was for him. It has been the most incredible experience for all of us,” she said.
Zackary has been a part of the refurbishing effort since Day 1 and even drove his car to his high school prom before the convertible top was finished.
But the reveal was a complete surprise to Zack — from the limo ride to the grand reveal and the display of other Mustangs from the Adirondack Shelby-Mustang Club. The past two years of planning and hard work ended with a celebration of Zackary and his team’s dedication.
The family is planning on entering the car in this weekend’s Howe Caverns Cavalcade of Cars, an event they attend every Father’s Day weekend but have never had the opportunity to compete in.
The refurbished Mustang is also an image of community support, according to Bill Trigg, chief executive officer of Make-A-Wish Northeast New York.
“It’s because of the generosity of local business that wishes like Zack’s come true, and we’re proud to be a part of them all,” Trigg said.