A hobby and a love of Christmas lights turned into a passion for one Shreveport man after life threw him and his partner a curve ball.
This holiday season you can pull up to Michael Walraven and Shane Morgan's house, set your radio, and enjoy the Lights on Lakeside. It's a spectacular showing of Christmas lights dancing to the music, but it's more than that. It's also a tribute.
"Everything you think you have planned for your life, it feels like it changes with literally an instant," said Walraven thinking about what sparked his interest in creating the light display.
The couple's lives changed this summer while driving down I-20. Morgan had a seizure. It turns out the 33-year-old wedding cake baker had a brain tumor.
"I thought he had the wrong patient. I was like no way. I'm completely healthy. I've never had any health issues at all," said Morgan.
Morgan started chemo, and continued to work at the job he loves.
"When I'm working on my cakes it's just very therapeutic. It just relaxes me," he said while creating flowers out of icing.
Walraven also went to work to deal with the news of his partner's illness, but his project included a mass of wires, Christmas carols, and a 17-foot Christmas tree. He spent months programming and putting up 45,000 lights to create a labor of love. Among the lights stands a donation box. All the money will go to the American Brain Tumor Association.
"One day that might be you. It could be me. It could be anybody, and so that's why we want to encourage people to do what they can and give what they can this holiday season," said Walraven.
The lights are his way of fighting the cancer, and just as Walraven put the finishing touches on his display, the couple got news that out shone all of the lights. The chemo is working. The tumor has started to shrink.
"It gave us a lot of hope to look to something brighter. This may be a battle that you deal with, but you know what, that's not the end of you," said Walraven as he looked at Morgan and smiled.
It's the best Christmas gift they could ask for.
The Lights on Lakeside display will run every night through January 6th. It's located at 5429 Lakeside Circle in Shreveport.
Click here to visit their Facebook page.
Click here to go to the American Brain Tumor Association's website. You can also donate online. Walraven asks if you do, click the box that says "in honor of" and put "Lights on Lakeside" in the blank space.
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