For 19-year-old Elijah Alcivar, the faded red 1992 Camaro RS that sits in the driveway of his home in Gallatin is more than just a car that needs a new transmission and a fresh coat of paint. It’s an escape.

In November of 2018, Alcivar was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after a small bump was discovered in his lower abdomen. While undergoing treatment, the teen turned to researching all of the possible customization options for the vehicle as a distraction from his battle with cancer. 

“I’ve had a really hard time throughout the entire process of being treated,” he said. “The car kept my mind off that.

“It kept me really strong, especially being able to work with my dad on it.”

After putting brakes on the faded red Camaro and getting it running, Elijah and his father Abraham drove the car home from a friend’s house where it was being kept late last year. That’s when they found out the vehicle would not shift beyond the second gear.

Last week, Dreams and Wishes of Tennessee surprised the 19-year-old by granting his wish for a new transmission for the car.

The nonprofit organization, headquartered in Donelson, grants wishes to individuals between the ages of 5 and 21 across Tennessee who have relapsed from cancer. Individuals may also be eligible if they have turned 18 and have not had a wish previously granted by another organization.

“We’re excited about being able to do this,” Dreams and Wishes of Tennessee Program Director Tanya Sturm said prior to surprising Alcivar during dinner with his family and friends at Prince Street Pizza and Pub in downtown Gallatin on Jan. 9. “This will give (Elijah and his father) something to look forward to and something to think about other than being sick.”

Since being founded in 2013, Dreams and Wishes of Tennessee has granted 94 wishes of children and young adults battling cancer. The majority of the nonprofit’s funding comes from individual donations and fundraisers each year.

Alcivar, who found out last month that his cancer is in remission, said he plans to use his car to attend classes at Volunteer State Community College in the spring. He hopes to become a registered nurse and possibly focus on oncology to help others battling cancer.

For Abraham, working on the car with his dad has been a “great bonding experience” for the two.

“Some of our most important conversations that have happened were in the middle of gear wrenching,” Abraham Alcivar said. “It teaches you perseverance and patience and all of those qualities that I want to teach Elijah as a father. It has been a great experience for both of us.”

For more information about Dreams and Wishes of Tennessee, including how to make a donation, visit or visit their page on Facebook.

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