LOGAN – Thursday evening, a Mountain Crest High School sophomore was honored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation with a ride in a 1976 Ford Highboy pickup, followed by a dozen classic cars and hotrods, courtesy of the Cache Valley Cruise-In Club.
The ride ended at the Utah Theatre where family and friends witnessed what Make-A-Wish was doing for Mason Stark.
On Aug. 9, 2019 Stark was riding an ATV bear Island Park, Idaho. He took a turn too quickly, hit a tree and flipped multiple times.
The accident took its toll on the then 14-year-old teen, injuring his gallbladder, kidneys, spleen, heart, liver, and ribs. Injuries from the accident resulted in a liver transplant, open-heart surgery and a few months in the hospital.
“A year ago, I was just getting out of the hospital,” Mason said. “I was in Primary Children’s Hospital for three months.”
His mother, Lani, remembers the exact day, Nov. 1, Mason was released from the hospital last year. He had undergone several surgeries and weighed 80 pounds less than when he went in.
It was a grueling time for Mason and his family while Mason was going through procedures and recuperation in the Salt Lake hospital.
“He had to have a liver transplant, open heart surgery, and have his spleen and gallbladder removed,” his mother said. “This was the first time the doctor had taken a liver without a replacement, he told us.”
She said they can take out the liver, but he could only live for 72 hours without it, and they didn’t have a donor liver to replace it with.
“What we heard was, if we would leave the liver in it will kill him. If we take it out, it could kill him,” she said. “We decided to have the doctors take it out and we would go on a wing and a prayer and hope for the best.”
Within 12 hours, they found Mason a liver that would work. That was the first of many miracles they would see throughout his recovery. Then they found he needed a heart valve replacement.
“Mason had to go through hours of physical and speech therapy,” she said. “The case worker at Primary Children’s Hospital suggested Make-A-Wish Foundation and took care of contacting them.”
Today, Mason looks and acts like any other teenager. He can’t play basketball for hours on end like he used to, he needs a break more often.
“He doesn’t have the stamina he used to have, due to his heart valve replacement,” Lani said. “And he will be on antirejection drugs for his liver the rest of his life.”
About every so many years he will have to go in and have his heart valve replaced.
Mason’s first wish was to take a tour of Jay Leno’s classic cars, and it was all set up until COVID stopped travel.
His second wish was a shopping spree, and Fox Pest Control went to work and set up the reveal Thursday evening.
Cheerleaders, family, friends and school administrators from Mountain Crest were there to enjoy and celebrate the reveal.
After riding in a shiny Ford pick-up, he received a gift bag from Kindig-it Designs, a car restoration company out of Salt Lake that became famous from their show Bitchin’ Rides.
The Utah Theatre gave a special showing of Ford vs Ferrari, including concessions, for him, his family and friends. Costa Vida donated individually wrapped pork burritos, water, chips, and Rice Crispy treats for after the movie.
“These are all his favorite things,” said Luci Peterson of Fox Pest Control. “He has been through a lot, and we hope we made his wish reveal a special one.”
The shopping spree will be sometime in December.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded in Phoenix, AZ in 1980. The organization helps fulfill the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages of two and 18 years old.