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Gainesville teen gets dirt bike from Make-A-Wish Georgia
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Jody Echols, sales associate at Gainesville Motorsports, helps Eli try on boots Saturday at the store. After being diagnosed with cancer, Eli Ligon wanted to experience anything and everything he could get his hands on, including off-road dirt biking. - photo by Erin O. Smith

After Eli Ligon was diagnosed with cancer, his outlook on life changed.

His mom, Carol Ann, said he wanted to experience anything and everything he could get his hands on, including off-road dirt biking.

“We all should be more like that,” she said.

On Saturday, 15-year-old Eli’s wish was granted and he received a 2017 Husqvarna TE 150 dirt bike, a helmet, jersey, riding boots, gloves, a chest protector and anything else he might need to ride his bike around the property of his grandmother’s house.

Eli and his family, who live in Gainesville, visited Gainesville Motorsports four times before he picked out his bike.

“It’s a great bike,” Carol Ann said.

Make-A-Wish Georgia asks that no last names are used to respect the privacy of the families involved in their wish granting.

Make-A-Wish Georgia coordinator Abbey Wysocki said Eli was the most thorough in choosing his wish she’s ever seen. He researched all his options, which once included a trip to Hawaii, his grandmother Brenda Shumake said. He chose the bike because it would last him longer than a trip.

She lives in Jefferson, where Eli will first take his bike out for a ride.

“I think it’s wonderful what (Gainesville Motorsports and Make-A-Wish Georgia) is doing for him,” Shumake said.

Shop owner Jimmy Westray was there to see wish granted. His 11-year-old sister Emily was also there for her big brother.

The blue, neon yellow and white bike looked too big for the slender teen, but was light enough for Eli to handle.

Carol Ann wasn’t nervous for her son, saying she knows he is comfortable on the bike and knows how to ride it. When Eli sat on the bike, his feet hardly touched the ground.

While Eli is toughing it out and things look good, he still takes immunotherapy drugs through an infusion every three weeks.

Before Eli was able to get on the bike, Make-A-Wish Georgia made sure he could ride and do so with safety, so he  took a class from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Alpharetta campus. Eli’s father, Rusty, said he was one of three people taking the course, two of them older than 60.

“His instructor didn’t know he was a Wish kid, since he doesn’t look like other kids (with cancer),” Carol Ann said.

That was two weekend ago. Now, Eli is ready to get his bike muddy.

“I just want to go ride,” Eli said. “I’m super excited to get out there.”

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