Colby Lindback of Green Isle has lived with Duchenne muscular dystrophy since he was 5 years old. His body doesn’t produce the hormone dystrophin, which helps build and rebuild muscle.
“Colby doesn’t have anything to build muscle with,” his sister, Autumn, a Glencoe-Silver Lake and Ridgewater College graduate, said. “So over time he lost his ability to walk, has been losing ability in his arms and he is currently in advanced lung and heart failure.”
Despite all Colby has lived with, he hasn’t let that keep him away from his true passion.
“Colby loves cars,” said his father, Jeff. “He loves monster trucks. He loves basically anything with a motor on it.”
Colby’s passion is shared with the rest of family. They enjoy visiting car shows, and each year he and his dad attend the Back to the ’50s car show at the State Fairgrounds.
But now, Colby’s passion for cars, his deteriorating health and his family’s love have them in a race against time to finish a project that started in 2015: A fully restored El Camino.
The idea for the project was sparked by a Christmas gift Colby gave his older brother, Tony, who was living in Texas. He wanted to build a model 1969 Malibu, the same type of car Tony had helped his father with once when he was young.
“Colby has always been big on trying to give everybody the most meaningful gifts he can,” Autumn said. “He at one point was upset because I gave mom a blanket for Christmas that had our pictures on it, so he decided to outdo me and get her a kitten on Mother’s Day. He’s always been big on getting meaningful gifts.”
When Tony opened the package with the car inside, he was so overwhelmed with emotion that it brought tears to his eyes, Jeff said. He returned to Texas and thought about what he wanted to give to Colby, and they decided on building an El Camino because it has a sporty front, similar to a Malibu, but could also fit Colby’s wheelchair in the back.
Tony found an El Camino and drove it all the way up from San Antonio to his parents’ farm in Green Isle. He wanted to work on it with Colby and Jeff whenever he was in town.
From there, the work began.
“We started planning and collecting parts,” Jeff said.
They went to every car show and swap meet they could find, searching for the parts they needed to fix the car. A special pully system was installed to help Colby get in and out of the car. They even had a name for the car: the Two Brothers Classic.
Tragedy changes plans
At the same time the family was working on the El Camino, Tony also had a 1957 Chevy being stored and worked on it at the Green Isle farm.
“He said don’t worry about that ’57. We need the El Camino done first so Colby has time to enjoy it,” Jeff said. “So I went full steam into (the El Camino).”
Then everything changed on Dec. 20, 2017, when Tony was killed in a crash on his way home from work in Texas. He left behind his wife and two daughters.
Since Tony’s death, Jeff has been the only person working on the El Camino. They’ve acquired all the parts needed to complete the restoration, but there is still much work to be done.
Because of Colby’s love for car shows, they hope to be able to drive the restored El Camino to a show once it is finished.
Autumn recently reached out on several Facebook pages, asking for volunteers to help with the restoration, but so far the family has not received much assistance. Anyone who wants to help with the project may contact Autumn Elizabeth or Jeff Lindback on Facebook.
Help or no help, the family is determined to have the car ready for Colby to enjoy.
“We may not get it painted. We may not get it exactly the way we wanted it,” Jeff said. “But we’re going to get it to where he can ride in it this year. That’s our goal, to get it done this year.”