Thousands of Hot Wheels pour in for Utah boy recovering from illness

Ethan Carnesecca is in Hot Wheels heaven.

"We've received cars from all over the world," said the boy's mother, Michele Carnesecca, according to KSL-TV.

Ethan is at home in American Fork with a basement full of donated Hot Wheels, after spending several weeks in the hospital.

Ethan sat on the ground recently, playing with them and his sisters. His family estimates they've received about 3,000 cars.

About one month ago, he developed pneumonia. He was flown to Primary Children's Hospital after his lungs began filling with fluid. He spent Easter Sunday and his third birthday with a chest tube and IV.

While at the hospital, one thing brought Ethan comfort, and it wasn't visits from his four older brothers and sisters, his mother said. His love of Hot Wheels cars helped him pull through.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital caught on that the tiny little cars settled their patient down. They ran around the hospital trying to find a car for him before each procedure. They also knew not to touch the cars on the pillows or take them out of his hand.

"It's a miracle that he's running around now," Carnesecca said. "I thought I was listening to my child die."

Family friend and local blogger John Lambert wrote about Ethan's illness earlier this month. He wrote how Ethan loved his blue Hot Wheels Camaro, which rarely left his hand. He even posted a photo of Ethan sleeping, while holding his car.

"You never could have predicted this would happen," Lambert said. "This is overwhelming just seeing it."

Although Ethan is back home, the cars keep coming by the truckload.

"Ethan has opened every package," his mother said. "I can't explain the joy Ethan has had opening each package."

Some aren't in packages because a lifetime of memories sits atop the tiny wheels.

"Dear Ethan," Carnesecca read from a letter they received accompanying some tiny cars. "I want you to have my dad's collection of Hot Wheels. He passed away, and I want you to now share it with your dad."

Ethan's story even reached famous drivers of real cars.

"This is the car NASCAR driver Richard Petty sent him," said Carnesecca as she showed off the autographed toy. "He signed it and everything."

But perhaps the biggest surprise of all hasn't even arrived yet.

"Mattel has gotten wind of this," Lambert said.

The maker of Hot Wheels contacted Lambert and said they have a special project in mind.

"An official Hot Wheels model with Ethan's name and decoration," Lambert said. "The design team is working on that."

It won't be sold in stores.

"It's a huge deal," Lambert said. "It will be an unobtainable model -- a priceless model. It will be the only one in existence."

Ethan's mom says their family has also received something else that's priceless.

"This has just proven to me and my family, friends and neighborhood that there is a lot more good in the world than bad," she said.