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BRONSON, MI — On an unseasonably beautiful Sunday afternoon in February, residents in Bronson, MI were surprised to hear numerous sirens.

If they were near Main Street, they would have seen a parade of fire trucks, police cars, ambulance, and a couple of purple vehicles with their lights on. Shields of Hope had come to Bronson.

Shields of Hope is a Zeeland, MI based organization that “spreads hope, love, and encouragement to those…affected by cancer”, according to their mission statement. The group began three years ago by public servants who were interested in helping those who are battling cancer along with their families. The program accepts nominations for those affected and works with the local fire departments to “surprise” the patient. For Bronson resident Joe Troyer, that is exactly what happened.

The afternoon ‘festivities’ began with the lining up of seven fire companies from the area as well as a representative from the local police force, sheriff’s department and the Michigan State Police. A LifeCare ambulance was involved as well. All the units turned on their lights and sirens as they made their way to the street where Troyer lives.

The trucks lined both sides of the street as the personnel offered hugs, well wishes, and thoughts for Troyer and his wife Leslie. After that, a special coin was presented to Troyer for being a ‘fighter’ and the group surrounded the couple and their children as a prayer was offered for them. Troyer then signed the Shields of Hope vehicle.

A couple of hours later, the scenario was similar as Breana Dules was showered with the same spirit of encouragement and love from the groups present. Dules signed the car with “Never lose faith” when her chance to sign was offered. She then rode the lead fire truck as the town was again surprised with a noisy parade of trucks and emergency vehicles.

The group also provides a special weekend program for those who are dealing with the stress of cancer. An all-expense paid weekend retreat to Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City is available to 30 families.

In addition to the vacation-style getaway, the group provides several licensed counselors at the lodge to share individual and family counseling. The counsellors volunteer their time that weekend in order to help the families make positive memories.

The group accepts donations for their activities and for the assistance offered to the families. To support this 501c3 organization, people are encouraged to check out the website at www.shieldsofhopewestmi.com. Information is available as well as YouTube videos from previous events.

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