Sgt. Michael Williams of the Herndon Police Department has been patrolling the streets of Herndon and looking after the safety and well-being of its citizens and visitors for the past 15 years.
Last month, the residents of the Town of Herndon were able to repay the favor.
In reaction to the news that Michael Williams’ 22-year-old son, Bryan, was diagnosed with stage four Burkitt’s Lymphoma cancer in the summer of 2005, the Herndon Police Citizen’s Support Team and community members dedicated last month’s sixth-annual Herndon Car Show towards raising funds to help offset the medical expenses incurred by the Williams family.
In the end, the group shattered all previous records for fund-raising at the annual car show, raising more than $6,600, up from an average of about $3,000 to $4,000 in previous years, according to Guy Masters, president of the Herndon Police Citizen’s Support Team.
This was the first time that money had been raised through the car show for a specific cause.
"There’s really just no words to explain how we feel towards everyone who came together in this time of need for our family," said Michael Williams. "It was a really traumatic time … for our family and to see that kind of outpouring of support from the community meant so much to us."
STAGE FOUR Burkitt's Lymphoma cancer, while dangerous and often deadly, is one of the few types of cancers that is curable with treatment. After two months of intensive chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission and Bryan Williams began to make the first steps towards a recovery.
After some work in physical therapy, Bryan Williams is once again attending class at George Mason University, working a part-time job and trying to get involved once again with athletics, as he is an accomplished basketball and football player, Michael Williams said.
From the time when Bryan Williams was in the hospital, the support from the Herndon Police Department was overwhelming, Michael Williams said.
"We had people from the department stopping in from all over, several times every week," he said.
When a family member of a Herndon police officer is sick, it’s just as if a family member of everyone at the department were sick, said Captain Brad Anzengruber of the Herndon Police Department. Anzengruber joined with many police officers in visiting Bryan at the hospital.
"The Herndon Police Department, we’re like a family here, and if one of our family members gets sick, we’re there to support them," Anzengruber said. "Our children are very important to each and every one of us … and we could picture what happened to Bryan as happening to one of our own kids."
BUT THE MEDICAL ATTENTION did not come without a heavy cost.
While Michael Williams has health insurance, the high costs of that intensive treatment that Bryan Williams underwent last summer surpassed its limits. That's why the Herndon Police Citizen’s Support Team stepped forward to help raise extra money to help.
"Just like we’ll go out and back up the police force when they have calls or community alerts, we were there for Sgt. Williams," said Masters, who has been the president of the Herndon Police Citizen’s Support Team for 30 years. "We try and help one way out there on the streets, and we try and help another way when it comes to his family."
The $6,600 was raised through the support of businesses sponsors of the Sept. 3 car show, as well as raffles, auctions and a "50-50" lotto, Masters said. Some of the sponsors included Sterling Glass, Eastern Automotive Group and Adams Green Funeral Home, he added.
Both Michael and Bryan Williams attended the car show.
THE GESTURE of care for both his son’s health and his family’s financial well-being is just one of the many things that Michael Williams says he sees everyday that makes Herndon a special place.
"Herndon, even though it has grown and evolved from the small community it used to be and even though it’s much bigger, it’s still close emotionally," he said. "This is just one example of this, how people can come together and push for a common cause."
"If it wasn’t Bryan, it would have been somebody else, I‘m sure of that."