Making Wishes Come True

A Toyota dealership employee decided to make a difference in a little boy's life. It sparked a ripple effect throughout her community

March 26, 2019
Forever Friends  -- Jane D’Amelio is Brendan Davies’ “wish buddy.” She’s worked with her colleagues at Right Toyota to help make all of Davies’ dreams come true. They’ve gone to movies, baseball games, and now, NASCAR.   

Spend a few minutes with Jane D’Amelio, and you’ll understand. She doesn’t just talk about giving back, she lives it. Her passion for service started in a Brighton, Massachusetts housing project.

“I was one of ten kids, we didn’t have anything,” D’Amelio says. “I never even had my own bed.”

Now, she is the Marketing Director at Right Toyota in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her team raises $10,000 dollars a month for charity, all of it collected from the community they serve.

“Sometimes I get overwhelmed, thinking about it,” says D’Amelio. “How did a little girl, who didn’t have the best upbringing make this happen?”
 
A Boy and His Heroes  -- On his way to the track, Davies found friends in 75 Toyota Tundras and a dozen local police officers. 

A Simple Wish 

Lately, one of the brightest spots in D’Amelio’s life has been a little boy named Brendan. Brendan has been battling illness since he was just a few weeks old. He survived a heart transplant at 18 months, and now, at age 8, lives with terminal lung disease and cancer. Brendan and his two brothers are being raised by a single mom.

“These boys are very smart,” D’Amelio says. “But they haven’t spent a lot of time being basic children.”

D’Amelio met Brendan and his brothers through a program that helps families through the harsh reality of childhood cancer.

She volunteered to be their “Wish Buddy,” and that’s where the magic starts.

“I spend time with Brendan and his siblings working on their wish list,” D’Amelio says. “It gets longer every week!”

The crew has been to the movies, to dinners and baseball games, but recently, a simple request proved difficult. D’Amelio couldn’t find a race track willing to let Brendan get behind the wheel of a go-kart. Then, she got an even better idea.

“Brendan has a passion for three things: motorcycles, trucks and fast cars,” D’Amelio says. “It took a few weeks of planning, but we were able to get Brendan to a NASCAR race.”
 
Making Magic

This was Brendan’s biggest wish yet. First up: a police escort to ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

“The boys thought they were going straight to the NASCAR race, but we pulled up and there were a dozen motorcycle officers,” D’Amelio says. “Brendan got to sit on a motorcycle, beep every horn and blow every whistle.”

And it didn’t stop there. A convoy of 75 lifted Toyota Tundras from a local Tundra club also joined the escort. Each one had an American flag flying off the back.

“Did I mention they shut down the freeway to transport the boys? Because, that happened!” D’Amelio says.

The group arrived to a VIP welcome, then it was off to the Toyota Suite for all the hot-and-spicy food they could eat (Brendan’s favorite). For D’Amelio, this was about more than a race. It was about living in the moment and making memories that last.

“I don’t want all the boys’ memories to be trapped in the hospital,” D’Amelio says.
An Unforgettable Friendship -- D'Amelio says she wants to give Davies and his siblings the kinds of fun experiences other children get to have. “I don’t want all the boys’ memories to be trapped in the hospital," she says.

The Care that Counts

It’s hard for most of us to imagine going to the doctor three times a week – or checking into the hospital and not knowing when we’ll get out. For Brendan, it’s just life. Palliative care keeps him comfortable by managing his pain. It also involves the kind of psychological and spiritual support he’s found in D’Amelio. Right Toyota and the community of Scottsdale have embraced “Team Brendan.” It looks like 2019 will include go-kart racing, guitar lessons and tickets to WWE.

“Lead by example is the complete opposite of the way I was raised,” D’Amelio says. “I’ve learned it’s not about writing a check. You can give something. You can give yourself and your time.”

By Jenny Krueger

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