VERMONTVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - A new fire truck now marks the final resting place of a 6-year-old whose grave marker was stolen, thanks to a couple who never knew him.
Zion Maldonado died a few weeks ago due to a congenital brain defect. On Monday, when his mother Michelle Malloy and his father Isaac Maldonado went to the cemetery in Vermontville, northeast of Charlotte in Eaton County, the little fire truck that served as a temporary grave marker was gone.
The truck, a $30 concrete lawn ornament, was special not because of the monetary value, but rather because of the solar-powered headlights meant to keep 6-year-old Zion's fear of the dark at bay.
"He only brightened the world and now you just darkened his," Malloy said Tuesday, demanding that whoever took the truck return it.
24 Hour News 8's Steve Kelso was at a Plainwell gas station in Allegan County Wednesday afternoon. There, he happened to run in to Michael Hickok and his girlfriend Dawn Hodges of Shelbyville. The couple recognized Kelso because they had seen the story on Zion's fire truck and decided they needed to do something.
"We saw the story about this little 6-year-old in Vermontville," Hickok said. "My girlfriend and I thought it would be a really nice idea to just take a bike ride over there and either help replace or bring it over."
The new fire truck was strapped to the back of Hickok's Harley Davidson motorcycle. The couple had bought it at a Meijer store.
Hickok and Hodges followed Kelso to the cemetery. Zion's parents met them there.
The new fire truck, Malloy said, was identical to the one that had been stolen, including the solar-powered lights.
The four were strangers, but they were drawn together by little Zion's light. Hugs and thanks were shared.
"Biker people know what to do for other folks. Times in need, or whatever," Hickok said.
Hickok and Hodges were just two of thousands who wanted to do something for Zion after seeing the initial report on Tuesday.
"The response has been amazing. We just appreciate everyone," Isaac Maldonado said.
Though the story started as someone doing something wrong, Zion's parents said, it didn't end that way.
"So many people have done right. So many people have contacted us," Maldonado said.
"Way more good has come than one bad thing," Malloy added.
Zion's parents urged people to remember the good that came from what started as a stupid, selfish act, and spread that light in his honor.
"He is still doing work. Even though he is not physically here, he is still bringing out the good in people," Malloy said. "They can do what their heart tells them and what feels right to them."
Bethany Murk, 48, was arrested Thursday following a drug bust in Van Buren County.
Flags were lowered to half-staff across South Africa and people in black townships, in upscale mostly white suburbs and in the country's vast rural grasslands commemorated Nelson Mandela with song, tears and prayers on Friday while …
The victim driver could face charges, and alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash, police said.