Paralyzed Tacoma man gets a thrill at Goodguys 25th Pacific Northwest Nationals

This article is reprinted from the Tacoma News Tribune

ZACH SMITH; Staff writer

Mike Hesson of Tacoma was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 3 years old. He has spent the 50 years since proving doctors wrong.

His mother, Marjorie, said doctors told her to prepare for her oldest son’s death when he was in a coma at 11. They told her the same thing two years ago when he suffered strokes that left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to talk.
“He’s had a ‘last stretch’ three times,” she said. “He’s an amazing kid.”

Cancer has sapped Hesson’s health, but not his love of cars. And for a car guy like him, there might not be a bigger thrill than the one he experienced Saturday at the Good Guys car show.

Hesson was chauffeured around the car show at the Puyallup Fairgrounds in the front seat of Bob MacConnell’s 1931 Ford Model A coupe. And while it was MacConnell driving, it was Hesson dishing out car lessons.

“I wanted to help when I heard he was a car guy,” MacConnell said. “He was naming all the cars off … He was very excited; he’s never seen so many cars.”

Through all of Hesson’s challenges – 14 brain surgeries, feeding tubes, weekly visits from nurses, re-learning how to talk – cars have provided an escape.

Hesson has always loved cars; it’s in his blood. His father, Bill, worked as a service manager at car dealerships while Hesson was growing up. That meant a childhood under the hood for Hesson, with his father showing him the ropes. For his 16th birthday, he got a 1967 Chevrolet Impala SS. Now, even though he can’t drive them anymore, he still shows off his love of cars by donning a Chevrolet Super Sport shirt.

“He’s always loved cars,” his mother said. “Elvis and cars: that was his whole life.”
Younger brother Dennis set up Hesson’s rendezvous with MacConnell at the car show, helping Hesson scratch another item off his bucket list. Because Hesson was able to catch an Elvis Presley concert in 1976, the only item left on that list is seeing the Grand Canyon.

“Made a dream come true,” Dennis Hesson said. “He was dealt a bum rap in life … but this (cars) is what he loves.”

-Mike Hesson, 53, gets a ride in Bob MacConnell's 1931 Ford Model A coupe during the Goodguys 25th Pacific Northwest Nationals Saturday at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. (LUI KIT WONG/Staff photographer)

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