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Children ring a bell when they beat cancer at this Michigan hospital


TROY, Mich. – The sound of a bell ringing can have many different meanings and at Children's Hospital of Michigan it is cause for celebration and symbolic of the light that can be found at the end of a tunnel once a child has successfully completed cancer treatment.

For the parents of Zac Avripas, the sound is priceless.

"It's like a big relief. You don't realize what the kids go through. But it felt good, you know, with all our friends and family to help us get through this, it's just been incredible," says Mark Avripas, Zac's father.

It has been a long road for 7-year-old Zac Avripas who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia right before his fourth birthday. After three and a half years of treatment, he became the first bell ringer at Children's Hospital of Michigan Troy.

The bell was designed and donated to the hospital by his family making the experience even more meaningful.

"I think it's wonderful. I mean I think that it's going to make my wife and I feel incredible that you know you have all these kids who go through this and they are able to ring this bell because there are a small portion of kids who aren't able to," says Avripas.

For Zac's special moment, family including grandparents, aunts and uncles and all of the medical staff that got to know and care for him through his treatment were present along with a lot of confetti.

"I think it's just a huge milestone for all of us to just celebrate that he was a trooper though all of this," says Dr. Roland Chu of pediatric hematology oncology at the hospital.

Opened a little over a year ago, Children's Hospital of Michigan Troy is an extension of the downtown Detroit location.

"We are one big medical staff one big nursing staff servicing both locations so you can expect what you get downtown is now out in Troy, so we're just thrilled to start our second year and continue to expand," says Luanne Thomas Ewald, chief executive officer of Children's Hospital of Michigan.

For Zac, and everyone involved in his journey, ringing the bell and signifying how far he has come is a reason to celebrate.

"I like it because my family made it," Zac says. "The next time I come here and hear the bell ringing I'm going to remember when I rang that bell."