Boy with Cerebral Palsy gets 'perfect replica' of 'The Love Bug' VW Beetle

Car becomes boy's obsession

CATAWBA COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - First, we should point out that the 1972 Volkswagen Beetle that now belongs to Brandon LaPage might look far from perfect to the naked eye. In fact, some people might call it a piece of junk. It doesn't even have an engine.

But when you see what happens to 11-year-old Brandon when he crawls into the driver's seat, you realize it's about as perfect as a car can get.

"Sometimes I imagine I'm in a race sometimes, like Herbie," Brandon said as he jerked the steering wheel back and forth and screamed for the car to "go fast!"

Brandon was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was one year old. But it's never held him back, especially when he wants something.

Herbie is the fictional car from the 1968 Disney movie, "The Love Bug." The story of a car that gets a mind of its own and becomes a champion on the race track plays out every time Brandon gets behind the wheel.

"Brandon gets really focused on some things," said Brandon's dad, Jerry. "Well he watched a video on Herbie and fell in love with Herbie. And he wanted a Herbie car more than anything."

Brandon got the idea that he could make the money to buy a Herbie car himself. So, in the front yard of his home in rural Catawba County, Brandon set up a lemonade stand.

"In one hour he raised 29 dollars," mom Jennifer said.

Twenty-nine dollars is a far cry from the going rate for a VW Beetle, but Brandon was determined.

"He wanted me to take him to Guy Roberts and see what we could get," Jennifer said.

Guy Roberts is a well-known VW repair mechanic in Newton. But Roberts had nothing on the lot priced at $29.

"He told Guy his whole story and Guy was like, 'Ok, I'll give him this one,'" Jerry said.

Not many people would give away a car, but Guy Roberts sure did. He had a '72 Beetle in pretty rough shape. It wasn't running, so Roberts removed the engine and sent it off to Brandon's house, for free.

So what does Brandon do with a beat up old Beetle parked out in his yard?

"He goes out there and sits in it all the time," Jennifer said. Brandon's grandfather, who lives next door, rigged a cool water A/C system that keeps the car cool when Brandon is inside.

And when he's inside, you can see just how perfect his car is. Brandon squeals with joy as he pretends to be inside a real race car, on a track at blazing speeds. Even though the tires are dry-rotted, and rust has consumed much of the bumper, Brandon wouldn't trade his car for anything.

While interviewing his parents on camera, Brandon jumped in front of the camera and began a short speech that might just be one of the most important parts of the whole story.

Brandon said, "Just use your imagination, kids, anything is possible if you just use your imagination."

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