One last car show for Max Oyler

1/28/2014

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story had an incorrect name in the headline. The car show was for Max Oyler.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story had an incorrect name in the headline. The car show was for Max Oyler.

Son coordinates impromptu car show for dying father.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

After receiving devastating news on Thursday, Max Oyler got to experience something very special on Sunday.

The parking lot across the street from this car enthusiast's room at St. Catherine Hospital filled up for an impromptu car show.

"We had dune buggies, race cars, motorcycles. We had everything from VW bugs to Corvettes. And there were several kinds of cars that Dad had owned in his past — 55 Chevys, 57 Chevys, they were all there, too. There was kind of a little bit of everything." Oyler's son, Sam Oyler, said. "The real surprise was when the fire department showed up with the fire truck."

On Thursday, the family was told the heartbreaking news that Max, who has been battling gastrointestinal stromal cancer for the past 10 years, wasn't expected to live much longer.

Prior to receiving this prognosis, Max, Sam and Sam's sons had planned to start taking their four cars to car shows.

"I could tell he was down, and he was like, 'We're not going to make it to a show,'" Sam said.

So Sam jumped into action on Saturday. After getting the OK from his dad's nurses to have a few cars park across from his dad's hospital room, Sam started making calls and then posted the following message on Facebook: "I need a huge favor from all car lovers or to anyone that has a loved one. My dad only has days left in his life. He bought a couple of hot rods to take to car shows with me and his grandsons. This will not happen. So, what I am asking from you is, I want to bring a show to him at the hospital tomorrow in the east parking lot at St. Catherine hospital at 1:00. Please bring your car, bike or anything on wheels and help me bring his dream to reality. If you can spare a couple hours, please come and join."

Sam's post was shared more than 350 times, and when he began reading the responses to it, he realized there would be a lot more than 20 cars showing up.

"I went back to the nurses and I said, 'I think we have a problem.' So the nurses called the administrator. It felt like I was going to the principal's office, and I'm sitting in there and she said, 'Well we were going to ignore it when we heard it was just going to be a few cars and then other administrators started seeing it on Facebook. Now, we've got to figure something out,'" Sam said. "So I thought she was going to tell us that we couldn't do it, but she goes, 'What I need to know is, what can we, the hospital, do for you?'"

During other hospital visits, nurses had asked Max when they could see his cars, so Sam told his dad that he arranged it so that they could see them on Sunday, not divulging the surprise awaiting him across the street.

"I said, 'Well dad, I brought the cars so you can start showing the nurses.' So he started getting his clothes on, stood up, and looked out the window and he said, 'You brought the cars, and you had some friends show up. You had a lot of friends show up,'" Sam said.

Less than 24 hours after posting the request on Facebook, a total of 140 vehicles filled the parking lot across the street from Max's hospital window.

"Grandpa started to cry when he got to the window," Ben Oyler, his 14-year-old grandson, said.

Max also got to get out of his room and see the cars up close, as his son wheeled him around in a wheelchair.

"People from Perryton, Texas, Guymon, Okla., Elkhart, Sublette, Montezuma, Greensburg, Tribune, Scott City, Kalvesta, Cimarron, Lakin and Holcomb showed up," Sam said. "And it all came together in less than 24 hours."

The family had a banner made that said, "God bless you, from all your family and friends," that they had people sign for Max.

And, in the midst of all the hot rods and bikes, sat the family's four vehicles, a '96 Firebird, a '94 Trans Am, a '97 Trans Am and a '00 SS Camaro — making Max's wish come true.

"I wasn't expecting but a few cars, and then to see the whole countryside show up, it was fabulous," Max said. "It was a really nice surprise."

The show lasted for about two hours, and Sam said several people approached him about continuing the tradition.

"Probably 25, 30 people asked if we would do a memorial every year because, no one has disputed it yet, but we've been told that's the largest car show Garden City's ever seen," Sam said.

He said that a car show is already in the works for next year, and that all the proceeds raised from it will go to cancer research.

When asked how it felt to have future car shows held in his honor, Max said, "I hope it's not just for me, but for anybody who's sick."

Sam said that after the parking lot cleared out, the hospital administrator who helped secure it for him told him that the event had lifted the morale of the entire wing of the hospital.

"There were patients standing up, looking out their windows on that side of the hospital. There were nurses coming and looking out the windows, doctors, you saw the ICU windows on the end popping open, and people coming up to the windows looking," Sam said.

People continue to share the experience on social media. People who attended started downloading photos of the event on Facebook so Sam's wife, Ashley Boyle, made a Facebook page called, "Prayers for Max Oyler — The GC Hospital Car Show Guy."

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