FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — When Brian Methner saw Target 8’s story on a Vietnam veteran who was out $2,500, he knew what he had to do.
“They’re great Americans, and they deserve our help and our support and our gratitude,” said Methner of America’s veterans. “Especially the Vietnam veterans. I mean we’ve got a long way to go to make it right with those people.”
Methner, co-founder of Kalamazoo Mortgage and a Marine Corps veteran himself, created the Hero Salute organization five years ago.
The group hosts fundraisers and uses the proceeds to support veterans and first responders.
“(Hero Salute) helps out police, fire and veteran-related charities all throughout southwest Michigan. So, what we do is look for veterans that have short-term needs, and we help them get back on their feet and thank them for their service,” explained Methner.
“We’ll be presenting (the Vietnam veteran and his wife) with a check for $2,500 to make them whole and, hopefully, they can now focus on the fight that’s ahead of them and that’s beating this cancer,” said Methner of Bernie and Carol Langlois.
The Langloises, who live in Fruitport, had been eagerly awaiting their first trip to the Vietnam Memorial Wall — one stop on an 8-day bus tour of landmarks in D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania.
But six weeks before the September trip, Carol was diagnosed with cancer after developing excruciating back pain. Her doctor said the bus trip was out of the question.
But the couple had not purchased travel insurance through the Muskegon-based tour company and, therefore, lost the $2,500 they paid for the trip.
The Langloises hoped their story would help other travelers, and Target 8 did receive emails from readers and viewers who said they would be considering travel insurance for their next trip.
Some who reached out to Target 8 were also concerned about the impact of the story on the tour business owner, pointing out that he’d done nothing wrong by declining to refund the Langlois’ money since the couple had not bought travel insurance.
“I see this as a heartbreaking cautionary tale from which everyone who travels can learn something,” one viewer wrote in an email to Target 8. “For my part, I will probably remember this story every time we are given the option to say ‘yes or no’ to travel insurance, understanding that we may have to eat the cost of the trip if ‘life happens’ and we have chosen the latter. I truly am sorry that this couple has to go through all this, but intend to glean something from their unfortunate experience.”
When Target 8 visited the Langloises a week after the story aired, we brought a surprise visitor with us — Brian Methner.
“I’m from an organization called the Kalamazoo Mortgage Hero Salute,” Methner told the Langloises in the family room of their Fruitport home.
“We saw your story and a lot of people who support us reached out to us. So, we wanted to show up today and give you guys your $2,500 back. It’s the mission of our organization.”
Carol Langlois, now fighting a 3-inch cancerous tumor on her spine, immediately got up and crossed the room to hug Methner.
“This totally floors us. We had written it off. That’s all we could do,” said Carol, stunned by the kindness of Methner’s unexpected generosity.
“Brian, we really, really appreciate everything. Thank you. Thank you so much,”
Bernie Langlois, who served in Vietnam while in the Navy, was grateful for the gift.
“This is good news,” he said as he hugged Methner.
“Thank you, my friend. Thank you so very, very much.”
Methner said he hopes other businesses will look for opportunities to support the customers on whom they depend.
“The purpose of a business should be to be a force for good in this world, and this was an opportunity that we saw that we could really help somebody out and remind people that this is why businesses should be here,” said Methner.