Local Officers “Feeling Better” After Community Raises Money For Cancer Treatment

VAN BUREN (KFSM) -- It's fitting that the man who runs the Van Buren Christmas house is known locally for his giving spirit; even in July.

Most recently, Richard Hodo has given a lot to the Van Buren Police Department. As has the local community.

"It seems like whenever we need something, we always call 911 and they're there," said Hodo.

Now, the department has officers calling for help themselves.

In March, officer David Hendrickson was diagnosed with lung cancer.

So when Hodo won three guns in a benefit drawing -- he gave them back to the department for a re-draw.

"I think (the officers) are under-appreciated and under-paid for the risk they take every day," Hodo said.

Lately, those under appreciated officers have been as heroic off-duty as they have on-duty. All in the name of their colleagues in need.

"We would (park a police car) and spend hours out there in the heat, selling tickets, and our community was super responsive," explained George Edelen, president of the Van Buren Fraternal Order of Police.

The heated moments in the sun paid off. The Van Buren community raised more than $17,000 on Hendrickson's behalf -- and according to Edelen -- close to $50,000 in the last year including fundraisers for another officer in need.

Fast forward, and Hendrickson says he's getting better.

"Doing so much better," he smiled, "The treatments, the prayers I've been getting is helping, is working."

This isn't the first time the Van Buren community has come together for an officer. In June of 2016, patrolman Michael Stewart was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The community raised funds for him -- and now he too says he's getting better.

"I had 16 pounds of tumors removed from my abdominal area," he explained, "so we're on the uphill swing and hopefully we can get back out there soon," said Stewart.

He's closer to getting back out there -- which is Hendrickson's goal, too. And it's all thanks to a caring police department and a responsive community.