CHIPLEY — Ernest Wayne Dupree was told he only had six months to live and his wish of reviving his pickup truck to its former glory was realized through the efforts of Emerald Coast Hospice’s Dream Foundation, Washington-Holmes Technical Center and countless donations from across the community.
The restored pickup truck was presented to him in a heartwarming ceremony on Wednesday, April 17, at WHTC.
“This means a lot to me,” said Dupree. “It’s very overwhelming just to see what I was driving before and what I get now. A year today I was given six months to live and now I’m thanking God that I’m standing here today.”
Misty Brown, medical social worker with Emerald Coast Hospice, explained the Dream Foundation.
“It’s like the Make a Wish Foundation for adults,” said Brown. “Patients turn in an application in the form of a letter of what their dream is and how it will increase their quality of life. We’ve yet to turn down an application.”
For example, Brown said a patient wanted a computer due to being bed bound.
“We even created a Facebook account for her so that she could stay connected to friends and family,” she said. “One wished for her son to be home for Christmas and another wanted a pinball machine. Wishes come in all shapes and sizes.”
The process of granting these wishes, Brown said, was to go to local agencies and resources.
“In this case we contacted the Washington-Holmes Technical Center and it just expanded from there,” said Brown. “They’ve gone above and beyond in helping Mr. Dupree’s dream come to life.”
WHTC Automotive Collision and Repair Instructor Jerry Harrell gave most of the credit to his students.
“When they found out it was for a man who didn’t have long to live they were more then enthusiastic to help,” said Harrell. “They were in here with every spare moment they had working hard and doing their best to make sure that this vehicle was put together in prime condition. I’m very proud of my students and their eagerness to help those in need.”
Dupree added that Mitchell Sight & Sound would be donating and installing a sound system for the truck.
“The Washington-Holmes Technical Center did a wonderful job,” said Dupree. “This truck is my life and only transportation. I also want to say that without my fiancé, Vanessa Hawkins, this dream would’ve never got started — she’s my heart.”