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Dozens of cars join birthday parade for boy fighting brain cancer

The Grand Rapids Police Department and members of the community all came out to wish Peter a happy birthday.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — During the coronavirus pandemic, where distance is the best way to keep people safe, the community and local fire and police departments are trying to keeping spirits high by giving kids a small parade for their birthday. 

On Applewood Drive in Grand Rapids, that was the scene for a special 12-year-old boy named Peter Dieleman. More than 50 cars, honking and displaying 'Happy birthday' signs, celebrated Peter. 

Peter is currently fighting brain cancer, having been diagnosed in July of 2019. Because of chemotherapy, Peter's family said they have already been semi-quarantined but the virus restricted their movement even more. As his birthday approached, Peter's family planned to do a small dinner, but then coronavirus hit. 

"Last week, he was like 'I'm not even looking forward to my birthday this year,'" said his mother, Lucyna Dieleman. "We both looked at each other, like you have gone through so much already and to not look forward to your birthday is not a good thing."

RELATED: Family celebrates Grand Rapids woman's 90th birthday with parade

The Dielemans talked to some friends and organized a parade. But they were surprised at how many people turned up to show their support, including the Grand Rapids Police Department. 

"It's community. In the midst of it all, that is good," said Lucyna Dieleman. "It's amazing to see what humanity does in crisis. You just see the beauty of humanity. All the cops coming, it just gave you chills; it gave you hope in this dark period right now." 

Sgt. Neil Gomez with the Grand Rapids Police Department said they are still a community-orientated department, but because of the virus they have to do that differently than before. 

"A lot of this is coming by word of mouth," said Gomez about police cars saying hi to kids under quarantine. "Just to make sure that kids out here in the community are still getting joy and the love that they need."

Gomez said this is what the community needs right now, "a glimmer of hope."

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