Meet Kaitlin, a beautiful Ocean County teen whom we have watched grow up before our eyes.

We see Kaitlin every year when we do our show for Pancake Day at IHOP in Brick, because Kaitlyn comes to represent the Children's Miracle Network.

This beautiful 17-year old has Spina Bifida. She was given a very bleak prognosis as a child but has exceeded all expectations.

And now, although she can't use her legs and feet the way you and I can, she is learning how to drive and getting ready to take the test for her driver's license.

There are special cars equipped so that people like Kaitlin can control the steering with one hand, and both the gas and brake mechanism with the other hand (a push/pull system.) She is learning to drive on such a car at a driving school near Rahway.

Problem is, you can only imagine the cost to own a car and that is outfitted with this special equipment.

For Kaitlin, when we interviewed her last week (as we do every year while we raise money for Children's Specialized Hospital), it was enough to know that she will be ABLE to drive.

She is a happy, well-adjusted, grateful kid on her way to becoming a beautiful woman. She is well spoken and full of love. She was told she would never walk...but you should see her now. Even though she has leg braces and needs to have a wheelchair on hand, and despite multiple surgeries throughout her life, she is a bright, shining light.

What she DIDN'T know that day was that the former owner of the Brick IHOP, Lou Masci, who owns Patrizia's (Italian restaurant) in Red Bank, has a very special place in his heart for Kaitlyn.

You see, Lou Masci has spent years championing the cause of Children's Miracle Network and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the generosity of our community, (specifically those that have come to IHOP and Patricias for his fundraisers)  to help so many kids that have come through Children's Specialized Hospital after experiencing birth challenges and tragic accidents.

Kaitlin is one girl who Lou has watched grow up, and he was determined to surprise her with a very, very special gift in honor of her learning she will indeed be able to get a driver's license.

So Lou Masci bought her a brand new car, complete with all of the special equipment inside to allow her to drive (and to store her wheelchair) once she gets her license next month.

He surprised her recently at one of his giant fundraisers at Patrizia's in Red Bank.

But Lou could hardly contain himself last week when we all gathered at IHOP to raise money for the cause, and swore us to secrecy when he told us of his huge plan for Kaitlin. We were overjoyed to know of this big surprise, but kept the secret so that Kaitlin could be surprised when Lou was ready.

Now she has her car and we couldn't be happier for her!

Kaitlin, we continue to send you love and wish you luck with your road test and safety behind the wheel of your brand new car! You are a true example of overcoming adversity with a positive attitude. And we hope you will come spend some time in our Point studio during our morning show soon!

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