IONIA, MICH. - Good things happen everyday. On my Facebook page, I showcase those happenings in an ongoing post-series called, One Good Thing. No one has made more appearances in that series than a school resource officer in Ionia County.
Mike, "Watch what I can do with a smile."
The most effective weapon Ionia's School Resource Officer has isn't on his hip. It's on his face. "Smiles aren't for you. You can't see your own smile. It has to go out and bounce back at you."
And dozens at a time it does. Officer Mike Cronk uses every method he can to simply connect.
Mike "Our future is the kids. And if I can reach the kids, I can reach the future."
Patrolling the halls, however is just the beginning.
Sarah "I was going to a very dark place. And he just made things better."
A few years ago, doctors diagnosed Sarah Ward's then 9 year old daughter, Kennedee with Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Then total strangers, Officer Cronk overheard Sarah talking about it to a friend in the school office.
Sarah "He said he'd been wanting to do something special for someone. He just didn't know what or who. And that was meant for him to do something for us."
Kennedee "When I was sick, he offered me and my friends a ride on a firetruck to help me feel better."
What began as a simple gesture has grown into something much greater.
"It's turned into a friendship we, as a family, needed."
Dinners, camping trips, children and adults. But, at it's heart... still Officer Cronk and Kennedee.
Kennedee "We text and facetime a lot. It's more like a best friend relationship."
Special though theirs is, Mike goes out of his way for many students.
Troy "His ability to impact the kids in a positive way is like nothing we've seen before.
Some who just need a friendly face...
Ted: "He comes in with the attitude that he's just going to love the kids."
And some who may need a little more.
Robert "I've had occasions where Officer Cronk will come to court to support a juvenile. Just to be there. To show the child he cares. And that sends a powerful message.
And everyday moments that have spread like wildfire on social media. Just saying 'Hi.'<
Joining kids in 5ks races. Fundraisers. Or just listening.
Mike "I hear some of the worst stories ever out of some of these kids. So, when I see them, I wanna do my best to make it better for them."
The results of which can be seen all over his office.
Mike "The little girl who drew this for me was probably the worst story I ever heard. But, if you look, we're both smiling and she's holding my hand."
At the end of our day, which Mike believed was a story about being a school resource officer, we took a trip back to public safety headquarters, where a special friend was waiting.
Mike "What are you guys doing here? With more cameras?"
Both "Hi Mike." "Good to see you, sweetheart."
Nick "Mike, this story isn't about being a school resource officer. It's about you and some of the people who wanted to say 'thank you.'" "Oh, wow."
Mike "I don't have a daughter. But this is the closest I've got so far. They let me into a world I'd never experienced before."
Officer Cronk's family and the wards have become close friends. They go to dinners, go camping. He and Kennedee are raising chickens. He was named citizen of the year last month in Ionia. And we have been inundated this last week, with other people sharing their stories of who Officer Cronk has done for them.
If you have a story you'd like to recommend for One Good Thing, message Nick on his Facebook page.
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