KCK Community College breathes new life into truck after a little girl’s death ended restoration dreams

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A local community college is breathing new life into a truck after a little girl's death ended the dream of restoring it with her step-dad. So many people were touched by the story and wanted to help.

“The best thing I ever did was post that truck online,” Michael Turner said.

Turner bought a truck in hopes of fixing it up with his step-daughter, Kai-Lynn, about a month before she died in a house fire.

“Two months ago was the two year anniversary, so February 22nd is a pretty hard day of the year for us,” Turner added.

She wanted to name the truck "Dixie" and paint it orange and black. Turner couldn't stand seeing the truck after she died and sold it to Colin Theis, who promised he would rebuild it in Kai-Lynn’s memory.

“The best thing you can do is a random act of kindness,” Theis said.

FOX 4 covered that story last July. But since then, many others have stepped up wanting to help, including students at Kansas City Kansas Community College, who are studying auto collision repair.

“I thought that since the little girl wanted to fix it up with her dad, we could take that, and it could be inspiration for our students to, first of all, learn, and second of all to make the little girl`s wish come true,” said Richard Gravelle, an auto collision repair instructor for KCKCC.

Now, months later, the truck, which needed tons of work, is almost finished.

“The truck is a '73 model, it had lots of rust, and we had to replace nearly every body panel on it,” added Gravelle. “LMC Truck, a local company, stepped up and donated quite a lot of parts.”

“Pretty shocked. Just in awe. I wasn`t expecting people to actually want to help me out doing this for her,” Theis said.

Students probably put almost 1,500 hours into it, along with their hearts.

“Some older students who had daughters, they really stepped up, and really helped out a lot on it,” said Gravelle.

Turner says this shows how wonderful humanity is for helping a complete stranger, but he thinks his baby girl might have something to do with it.

“I think this is her continuing on through our lives, staying with us in her own little way,” Turner said. “It`s a very comforting thing to know that she`s still here with me.”

The students are putting the finishing touches on "Dixie" and want to paint her name on the right door where she would have ridden. They are still looking for someone to help with that.

Gravelle and his students are planning a big reveal in a few weeks to show the finished truck to Kai-Lynn’s family, before returning it to Theis.