In response to a story in the Wichita Eagle Friday, radio station 104.5 The Fox is giving a car to a cancer and dialysis patient whose vehicle was stolen Saturday from the South Broadway motel where he lives.
On Friday morning, Jan Harrison and Phil Thompson of the station’s Jan and Phil morning show arranged to find a car for Cleet McGhee, a 60-year-old former restaurant cook who needs a vehicle to get to and from his three-times-a-week dialysis sessions.
McGhee’s immediate reaction was, “You’re kidding, me, man.”
But after being assured the offer was real, he said: “It will get me to my dialysis. God bless you.”
The station is a partner in a project called “Cars 4 Christmas/Cars 4 Heroes” with All Parts Auto Salvage on South Broadway, Harrison said.
The salvage business takes donations of used cars from the public. Those that can be made safe and serviceable with minor repairs are given to people in need, while those are too worn out to fix are scrapped and the proceeds donated to the project, she said.
While the demand always exceeds the number of cars available, McGhee’s unique circumstances called for urgent action, Harrison said.
Darrell Rankin, owner of the salvage yard, said he has a couple of donor cars waiting for repairs and he expects to have one ready for McGhee by the end of next week.
The plan at this point is to present the car to McGhee during the Jan and Phil show next Friday morning, Harrison said.
McGhee worked as a cook at Mike’s Steak House, a now-closed restaurant on South Broadway, until two years ago when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. The cancer is in remission after aggressive chemotherapy and a marrow transplant, but his kidney function didn’t recover after the disease and rigorous treatment.
To stay alive, McGhee has to go to dialysis three mornings a week to have his blood cleansed.
But on Saturday, a man and woman stole his 2001 Lincoln Town Car when he dozed off in his room after a physically taxing dialysis session that had caused his legs to cramp up.
Security video shows that the man and woman walked around the motel and parking lot before the woman reached in through the door of McGhee’s room and stole his car keys. She started the car and the man jumped in and they drove away.
McGhee was awakened by the sound of his car starting and rushed out of his room, but it was too late to stop the theft.
McGhee bought the car before he got sick and described the theft as taking away his lifeline.
The first car he ever bought, at 56, the Town Car was his pride and joy and friends said he always babied it and kept it in top shape.
McGhee’s story was featured in Friday’s Eagle and on Kansas.com. In addition to the radio station’s effort, the story sparked offers from several other local residents who volunteered to drive McGhee to and from his treatments while he waits to see if police recover the car.
The Town Car is white, with a black cloth top and a sunroof.
Efforts to recover the car are ongoing and anyone who sees it is asked to call the Wichita Police Department and report it.