May 22, 2012
– CBSDFW | Stephanie Lucero
Students at South Grand Prairie High School have worked for months collecting donations for a classmate who has a passion for hot rods and trucks. Gage Oakley is a cancer survivor, but it has been a tough road. The 15-year-old was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2. He recovered from that cancer. But at the age of 14, doctors at Children’s Medical Center Dallas discovered a more aggressive type of cancer in his left leg.
Pediatric oncologist Dr. Victor Aquino treated Oakley when he was diagnosed with cancer as a toddler. Aquino said that Oakley did well “until about a year ago when, unfortunately, he developed the cancer in his leg called osteosarcoma. And the treatment for that was to have his leg amputated, as well as to receive chemotherapy.”
Oakley’s left leg was amputated last year. He wears a prosthetic leg which he was fitted for at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.
Oakley’s mother, Holli, said that her son first wanted to know if his 1977 Ford pickup truck could be converted from standard to automatic. That is when a group of students at South Grand Prairie High School came up with the idea of making that happen. “This is his one true love” said Jessica Herrera, a student at South Grand Prairie High School. “Like most kids have football as their true love, I think his true love is his truck.”
Many of Oakley’s friends were at the hospital with him during his many stays for treatment and the amputation surgery. Logan Bunyea is Oakley’s best friend. “He’s a kid that never gives up,” said Bunyea. “He’s a kid that, when it comes to the point where he feels like he’s down, he turns to God and it keeps him safe. And hope in his heart.”
In December of last year, Oakley turned his 35-year-old truck over to Grand Prairie Ford, and students collected donations. They raised more than $4,800 and, on Saturday, Oakley will get his truck back. It no longer has a stick shift. The clutch is buried under the floorboard carpet. It is now an automatic, and Oakley will take it for a ride after its presented to him at the school campus.
“I’ve always liked classic cars and trucks and hot rods,” said Oakley.
All of the attention is a little overwhelming, but Oakley said that he is appreciative of what his friends have done. “I’m grateful,” he said.