Kelly Puentes, 16, of Sterling Heights, was elated when the Easter Bunny and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard showed up in her room. She said it was the “best thing that happened to me all day.” She received a stuffed bunny and a sticker during the visit.

Kelly Puentes, 16, of Sterling Heights, was elated when the Easter Bunny and Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard showed up in her room. She said it was the “best thing that happened to me all day.” She received a stuffed bunny and a sticker during the visit.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Easter Bunny hops by to say hi to children in hospitals

By: Sherri Kolade, Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published April 2, 2018

  Alessandra Cracchiolo, 14, of Shelby Township, receives an Easter hug. The Easter Bunny and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office representatives made a special visit March 29 to Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

Alessandra Cracchiolo, 14, of Shelby Township, receives an Easter hug. The Easter Bunny and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office representatives made a special visit March 29 to Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Laura Griese, of Rochester Hills, sits with her 4-week old-twins, Anne and Violet. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard brought the twins stuffed bunnies for Easter.

Laura Griese, of Rochester Hills, sits with her 4-week old-twins, Anne and Violet. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard brought the twins stuffed bunnies for Easter.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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TROY — Staff gave the Easter Bunny a thumbs-up and took breaks from their duties in the pediatric and neonatal wards to pose for a photo at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, the morning of March 29.

Klaus Vang, 1, from Warren, in the arms of his grandmother, Lov Vang, of Sterling Heights, gave the bunny a high-five with his bandaged hand and accepted a stuffed bunny from Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

“He’s not sure what to make of it,” Lov Vang said.

Some of the children were too ill for visitors, so the Easter Bunny and Bouchard said hi from outside their rooms.

“Thank you for stopping,” said Kelly Puentes, 16, of Sterling Heights, after she posed for a photo with the Easter Bunny.

Laura Griese, of Rochester Hills, held her 4-week-old twins, Anne and Violet, in her arms for their first photo op with the Easter Bunny and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

“The sheriff is here,” Laura Griese said to her infants.

Bouchard said that as a parent, he understands how hard it is to be with your child, day in and day out, in the hospital, because he and his wife’s oldest child was born prematurely.

“It’s nice to bring a little smile,” he said. “It’s not a police moment, it’s a community moment — an opportunity to help and give back.”

The Easter Bunny — an Oakland County Sheriff’s Office representative — and the Sheriff’s Office teamed up during a special trip to pediatric wards in the area that day, including the Euro-Peds National Center for Intensive Pediatric Physical Therapy in Pontiac.

Bouchard hugged the Easter Bunny as patients, siblings and parents’ eyes glimmered — some shook the bunny’s hand, while another checked out his floppy ears amidst laughter and picture-taking. One child even proposed that the oversized bunny was a human.

“Do humans have big, furry paws like that?” The sheriff asked the curious child. “No.”

Everyone in the room laughed.

Euro-Peds Director Michelle Haney said that the annual event is a treat.

“We have been really lucky that the Sheriff’s Office has been visiting us for a really long time  — over a decade,” she said. “(Kids are) excited to meet the Easter Bunny, and to meet the sheriff is really exciting as well. They look forward to it every year.”

Mary Carleton, who lives outside of Chicago, has visited Euro-Peds for two weeks twice per year for a couple of years for her daughter, who has agenesis of corpus callosum, described as a rare disorder that has a partial or complete absence of an area of the brain that connects the two cerebral hemispheres.

As her daughter, Gabriella, 9, sat warily near the bunny, her mother — with her baby son in tow — said the visit was welcome.

“It’s a distraction from therapy … just a little break in the routine,” Mary Carleton said. “It’s just a great place.”

Stuffed bunnies abounded that day. Bouchard held a basketful and handed them out to children.

“That’s a big bunny, huh?” Bouchard asked a child who hugged the life-sized Easter Bunny.

Bouchard said afterward that it can be challenging for children in medical care and their families to visit the Easter Bunny, so it only made sense for the bunny to come to them.

“It is an opportunity to give smiles and a diversion — have a little fun,” Bouchard said, adding that although this is not traditional police work, it is still — at the end of the day — about supporting the community. “This helps people.”

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