Broc McEachern loves classic cars and hot rods, and he doesn’t mind getting covered in grease working on rebuilding an engine or rebuilding the body of an old vehicle.
Now, the 17-year-old Grade 11 student at Amherst Regional High School is putting his passion toward a good cause through a fundraising campaign for the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax.
Engine for Hearts will see McEachern take a 1920s era Ford Roadster he’s restoring to car shows around the Maritimes this summer with all the proceeds going to the children’s hospital – a place that literally is near and dear to his heart.
“If not for the doctors and care I’ve received there since I was born I wouldn’t be alive today,” McEachern said. “It’s something I want to do to pay them back for all they’ve done to keep me alive and I hope the money I raise helps someone else like me through better treatment and research.”
McEachern was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which is one of the rarest forms of heart disease in the world. Essentially, the condition means the left side of his heart has not grown. It can affect the left ventricle, aorta, aortic valve or mitral valve.
When he was born in 2001 he was immediately taken for emergency heart surgery and in 2002 he had another operation, while in 2008 he had a fenestration closure and received a pacemaker in 2018.
Eventually, he will reach the stage where a heart transplant may be needed.
Despite being an active youth, he continues to play baseball and played minor hockey up until a season ago, McEachern has had to take numerous trips to Halifax – sometimes by ambulance.
“I’ve been in and out of the IWK more times than I can count,” he said.
The Amherst native said he got the fundraising idea from another person who was fighting cancer. That person rebuilt a car and took it to car shows to raise money for cancer research.
“If he could do it for cancer, I thought to myself why not me? I can do something like that,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of support. I’ve had some mechanics reach out and offer me help and my step dad set up a Go Fund Me page that has raised $350 already.”
McEachern bought the car in New Brunswick last year and since last September he has spent countless hours rebuilding the engine and completing the body work. The vehicle is drivable, but he’s continuing to work on it.
“The engine is the heart of the car so it’s fitting that I’m calling my campaign Engine for Hearts because the heart is the engine for the body,” he said.
He’s not sure how his love of cars began, but he admitted that he’s always been fascinated by them and has a natural talent when it comes to working on them – although he’s not sure he wants to make a career out of it. He said he got a lot from a co-op placement last year at Deegan’s Auto Service in East Amherst, something he said that only served to fuel his passion for cars.
While this year his focus will be on car shows around the Maritimes, he hopes to eventually go across Canada to car shows raising awareness and money for heart research. His goal is to raise $20,000 for the IWK over several years. Right now, his goal is $5,000 this year.
He hopes to get donations at the car shows he attends with those funds going to the IWK along with what’s raised online.
To learn more about what McEachern is doing, go to his YouTube page at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZWqGSJ55sY&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR1T4Gmm3h9GE0pbGlbt2kFodUul__yBV7lQ8h1vQzRwzIzuLgY-VHyFBv0