2017: A look back at unity in west Michigan

ForeverStrong, Kalamazoo shooting rampage, Wings Event Center
Inside the ForeverStrong vigil at the Wings Event Center on Feb. 20, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Often times we spend a lot of time reporting on death and tragedy, but sometimes powerful stories come out of hard times.

As we enter 2018, 24 Hour News 8 is taking a look back at stories that highlight the power of supporting our friends, neighbors or even complete strangers — showing the strength of West Michigan.

You can watch our 2017 review above.

The Kalamazoo community continues to show resiliency following the 2015 shooting rampage. In February, the ForeverStrong vigil brought together people who will continue to honor the victims by creating the Forever Strong Memorial Foundation.

In April, The Barn For Equine Learning in Lowell Township suffered an unimaginable loss. Their beloved horses used for important kid and teen programming died in a fire. Since that time people have spent their time and resources helping the barn rebuild.

While responding to a crash on I-94 in June, Comstock Twp. Fire Chief Edward Switalski was hit and killed. His impact on the community could be felt and seen during a procession of emergency vehicles and packed funeral service. Since that time the community has taken steps to continue his legacy.

When Lance Cpl. Jeff DeYoung learned his battlefield brother, Cena, had bone cancer in July he decided to give him the best send-off he could. To his surprise, the Muskegon community responded in a remarkable way. DeYoung was able to give Cena a final ride before being laid to rest at the Michigan War Dog Memorial.