WYLIE, Texas — Doctors have bluntly told Weston Groff that he is running out of time. But after the surprise reveal of a new set of wheels for the 17-year-old in Wylie, it's clear that he is not running out of friends and family who want his final days to be one grand "mysterious" adventure.
We first met Weston and his mom Sandy Groff in February. Weston has Friedreich's ataxia, an inherited nerve disorder. The effects can be much like ALS or muscular dystrophy.
"One doctor told Weston several years ago that he wasn't going to live to his 18th birthday, which is this year," his mom Sandy Groff said.
Weston was willing to talk about his situation too.
"Miserable some days," he told WFAA reporter Kevin Reece. "Some days it's alright. Just depends on the day I guess."
So, his mom's request was simple.
"I just want to make him happy. I just want him to smile," she said.
So, through GoFundMe, she asked for help repairing their rusting wheelchair assist family van.
Weston had given his mom a bucket list, listing all the things he wants to do if the doctor's assessment is true. One of those bucket list items was a trip to the Grand Canyon.
The GoFundMe asked for just a few thousand dollars. People responded to WFAA's first story, and gave the family more than $38,000.
The rusting white van went first to Christian Brothers Automotive, then to Hollywood Collision and to Maaco in Euless, where it emerged a shiny sky blue.
But then, one part of the story Weston didn't know about, the van went next to Laser Wraps in Wylie. One of Weston's favorite cartoons is "Scooby-Doo". If he was going to go on a cross country adventure, he might as well do it in the Mystery Machine.
With his big sister Clarissa driving and his big brother Kyle in the passenger seat, the van arrived at Wylie High School this past Thursday, complete with a Wylie Police and Wylie Fire Department escort. Weston, other members of his family, and dozens of his classmates applauded as the van pulled up to the curb.
"Oh, my goodness. It looks so good," Sandy Groff said.
And next to the Mystery Machine, images of Scooby-Doo and his entire gang, was a cartoon version of Weston's service dog Cosmo with prominent place on a passenger side window. And, Cosmo was the first to jump inside when they opened that same door.
"Are you speechless?" Sandy Groff asked Weston.
"We're gonna [sic] go to the Grand Canyon in style," she said of the van that also has the personalized license plate "RUHRO."
The generosity of strangers made it possible to add a few more stops on the bucket list trip. They also plan to go to Six Flags in June, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in August and the Grand Canyon in October.
"Overwhelmed and just beyond words," Sandy Groff said. "A blessing. Just to be able to do this for him and make some wishes come true, it's just above and beyond... and blessed."
Weston, a man of few words sometimes, offered perhaps the biggest praise of all.
"What do you think of it?" Reece asked him.
"It's cool," he replied with smile.
"It is. It's like the pixie dust," he mom said, of the gift being offered to Weston by friends and total strangers.
"It's amazing," she said.
Weston and his family don't know how much time he has left. But he does know that he has people who care for him and love him.
As his bucket list trip begins, there is absolutely no mystery about that.