The phone call caught me off guard.
Last Saturday afternoon I was in Winnebago bowling with the Blue Earth Area Mentors (BEAM) group when my cell phone rang.
Over the din of bowling pins being smacked down, I heard the caller say I might want to take some pictures of another welcome back fire truck parade that was going to happen on Blue Earth's Main Street that evening sometime.
Welcome back who, I wondered? It has usually been a returning veteran or a state champion. I had not heard of either type coming home.
The caller said this one was for someone returning from cancer chemo treatment in Rochester. I had not heard of that ever being done before.
Turns out, it hasn't been.
But, this was a special welcome home for a Blue Earth Area second grader, Sully Mcguire. He is the son of Ryan and Melissa Mcguire.
Yes, that Mcguire. Melissa is the Blue Earth Area middle and elementary school principal.
I was shocked to hear that news. I wasn't the only one.
"It was a big shock," Melissa says. "It still is."
It seems that Sully had a broken leg with a cast on it. When he had the cast taken off, the doctors took another X-ray to make sure it healed correctly.
They noticed a spot on his leg bone.
That was on Thursday, Nov. 29. The doctors took an MRI test. The next day there were more tests, confirming that Sully had osteosarcoma bone cancer.
He was in Rochester for a week and had his first chemo treatment.
The family, which includes the Mcguires' other son, Riley, 12, a seventh grader, was finally able to come home on Saturday, Dec. 8.
"My husband, Ryan, is a volunteer fireman with the Blue Earth Fire Department," Melissa says. "One of the guys on the fire department called us and asked if Sully would like a ride on a fire truck back into town. His eyes just lit up when we asked him and he had a big smile."
The Mcguires say they did not expect what happened next.
They were met by several fire trucks and police cars. Sully and the family got to ride in the trucks to their home on South Main Street.
But, it was when they got downtown that they were more surprised there was a crowd of well-wishers welcoming them home.
Many followed them to their driveway. Buccaneer football coach Randy Kuechenmeister and some of the Buc football players gave Sully a souvenir helmet and football.
The family was deeply touched.
"You know, this was truly amazing," Melissa says. "It really tells you what kind of a community you live in."
She says that she and her husband have always been involved in the community she with the school and he by volunteering on the fire department.
"We have always been the ones doing the giving, doing things for others in the community," she says. "Now I guess it is our turn, and the community has been giving back to us, in spades."
Everyone has been so supportive, since they found out the news, just two weeks ago. The outpouring of concern, prayers and support from so many people has been incredible, the Mcguires say.
This is just the start of what Melissa calls an adventure that the family must go on. Sully will need treatments for nine to 12 months.
He will miss school. Melissa's parents, who are retired, will stay with him at home.
Having the community supporting them means a lot to them, the Mcguires say.
The fire department is already planning much more than just an escort home. They are working to set up a benefit for the family sometime in the latter part of January at the fire hall. Watch for details later, when the plans are all made.
And, they have already started a benefit fund for the family at Wells Federal Bank in Blue Earth. Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so by calling or stopping in at the bank.
As for the fire truck ride back into town last Saturday, Melissa says that after two weeks of doctors, tests and chemo, it was a nice way to come home.
And, she adds, although they didn't expect such a big deal, it was nice to see her son smiling again.
Plus, to realize what it means to live in a small town that cares about one another.