The Suburbanite
  • Teen with cancer gets his ‘dream car’

  • Ben Ladich's family knew he deserved to see his biggest wish come true. The 18-year-old Green resident deserved it, having battled Hodgkin's lymphoma since January. With a little help from Park Subaru, the Ladich family secured Ben's "dream car."

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  • For Green resident Ben Ladich, who turned 18 over Memorial Day weekend, this year has been difficult.
    In January he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. Since the diagnosis, he has been undergoing treatment for the disease, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The combination has been hard on the Green High School senior, who experienced hair loss, radiation burns, lethargy and a diminished appetite.
    Yet through it all, he persevered with the help of family and friends.
    “It has been hard on him, “ said Ben’s mother Bethany Ladich. “But he has been a fighter and has hung in there through it all."
    Of course, despite the adversity, Ben is a typical teenager in most ways.
    He still wants all those things that any normal teen his age wants and at times, some of the things he wants can be a little out of the ordinary.
    One of those things was a car.
    But not just any car.
    Ben wanted a 2013 Subaru WRX Impreza. This is a limited-production rally car. Unfortunately, none were to be had in Ohio, as Ben found out after some wistful searching. So he set his sights a little lower.
    “He wasn’t above playing on our sympathies for a new car,” said Bethany with a smile. “Still, we also wanted to be realistic and do everything in our power to make his dream come true.”
    Bethany and her husband Steve Ladich decided to see if they could make Ben’s dream car a reality. Steve stopped at the Subaru dealership in Green and talked with sales manager Shaun Swihart. After Steve explained the situation, Swihart decided to do everything in his power to make Ben’s dream come true.
    “The WRX was hard to get,” Swihart said, “but I decided to everything we could to do to get it for Ben. I got in touch with our company president, Tom Flory and told him about it. He contacted Subaru, and told them about Ben and his situation. He pulled a lot of strings to get it to happen.”
    And it took a lot to get it all done. There wasn’t a WRX available in all of Ohio.
    “It was definitely a difficult car to get,” Flory said. “After talking with Subaru, they did everything they could do to locate a car. There were none in Ohio but after talking with another dealer out of state we worked something out. We got the car for Ben with the understanding that, down the road, that dealer would get something in return from us. But it was really worth it and we felt great about doing it. Subaru is dedicated to doing things like that for the community.”
    Page 2 of 2 - With the car now secured, the only question was how to surprise Ben with it. Steve and Bethany decided to hold a birthday party at Greensburg Park and have the car driven up during the picnic. It was all planned out down to the last detail: Steve would be talking to Ben in front of everyone and then just casually mention that his birthday present was a 265-horsepower vehicle.
    At least that was the plan.
    As Steve talked the car didn’t show up. Steve kept going on but finally ran out of things to say and turned it over to Bethany. Well, she was tongue tied for once in her life and still, no car. Finally Ben was told he was getting a car and that it was late.
    All eyes turned to Massillon Road.
    Car after car pulled into the park, but no WRX. When a Mercedes pulled in Steve was quick to point out, “No Ben, that’s not it.”
    Finally, the sleek white car arrived and the look on Ben’s face was, to say the least, priceless. Flory and Swihart got out and made a short presentation to Ben as he eyed the four-door rally car. Then he just walked around it, perhaps afraid he was just dreaming. But it was real and as he sat in it for the first time, he broke out in smile from ear to ear.
    “I had no inkling that I was going to get this,” Ben said. “I thought they would do something, but not this. But when dad said 265-horsepower, I had a clue.”
    For his parents, the whole plan worked out great, even if the timing wasn’t perfect.
    “We had to make his dream car come true,” said Bethany. “We’d like to thank all our friends and family, and especially Park Subaru. It takes a whole community to survive what we went through. We knew he wanted it back in February and we did everything we could to make it come true for Ben.”
    “You never know what life has in store for you,” said Steve. “We have taken care of him and he earned this for all he went through. It has been a tough six months for Ben. He never complained about his chemotherapy, the shots, hospital visits; he just took it all in stride. This car was very highly sought-after. I can’t say enough about Park Subaru. There was a whole new crew there that took it upon themselves to track one down. They were just great to us.”
    As Ben sat in his new car, the reality that his dream had come through settled in. With his family and friends around him, the smile on his face never dimmed. Though it has been a difficult year, he has weathered all the treatments and now has the car of his dreams.

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