The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

May 23, 2012

City man fixes cars by day, builds Legos by night

— You might say Paul Boratko never grew up.

The 38-year-old Johnstown man works in auto body repair during the day, but at night he builds Lego cars.

Boratko’s creations are not exactly “toys,” however.

His cars are highly technical – built with the help of a friend in California who is an aeronautical engineer.

“I am more of a hands-on guy,” Boratko said.

In the world of Lego enthusiasts, Boratko is a celebrity of sorts. A website dedicated to his creations has followers around the world. He has been featured in AutoTrends Magazine.

He also has entered some of his designs on a Lego site that allows the public to vote on the entries. Those receiving 10,000 votes are considered by the company as ones to be made into kits and sold to the public.

“It would be cool to walk through Toys R Us and you see your name on the (box),” Boratko said. “It could become a reality.”

His hobby isn’t for pleasure alone. One of his designs, a car he calls the Vampire GT, is being auctioned through eBay. With bids this morning reaching $700, Boratko hopes the car will raise $1,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The car is also one of the entries on the Lego voting site.

“I knew that this was the best one that I have done,” Boratko said.

The money raised through the auction, which runs through Saturday, will go to the organization’s local chapter.

It was an encounter at a Lego trade show that convinced Boratko to do something for charity.

“I saw a gentleman come up to me with a young boy,” he recalled. “The kid kept whispering to his father.”

The boy had seen the Boratko creations on a website and was thrilled to meet him.

The father eventually asked if Boratko would be willing to have his picture taken with the boy holding one of the cars.

After the photo was taken, the father thanked him.

“He said, ‘Today is my son’s 21st birthday,’ ” Boratko said.

That was when he realized that the boy had physical problems.

“I thought he was about 12. It was very, very humbling.”

Boratko returned home and told his wife that he wanted to do something for charity.

Amanda Boratko, who often accompanies her husband to trade shows, said she is extremely proud of his talents.

“I love watching him create something from nothing,” she said. “The way he figures out how to put so many functions in the car, like a working engine and transmission, still blows my mind.”

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