STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – As brand new parents, Colton and Amber Conley should be able to spend every second they have with their 5-month-old daughter Meredith.
She’s an adorable baby with an adorable smile, but the shirt she was wearing when Local 4 visited also served as a reminder. Her dad, Colton, who’s also a Sterling Heights police officer, is fighting a battle within.
Last year, Colton applied to be a police officer in Sterling Heights after working as a deputy in Bay County for four years.
“We wanted to make a move closer to family,” Colton said. “So, we started looking down here and when I saw that opportunity open up, I applied to Sterling Heights.”
He got the job, and they moved in with Amber’s parents temporarily; or so they thought.
“When we finally moved down here, I was 20 weeks pregnant,” Amber said. “It was about in June, so getting toward the end of my pregnancy, (that’s when Colton) discovered there was something wrong.”
That something was stage 3 testicular cancer, which had already spread through the 28-year-old’s body and into his lungs.
Colton’s doctors are optimistic, but optimism doesn’t make the battle any easier.
“I mean, being a 28-year-old male, young and overall healthy, it was surreal. Just something you didn’t think would ever happen,” Colton said.
“It just seems unfair, you know, because he’s always such a good person, a new father and good husband, and it’s just really upsetting,” Amber added through tears.
In the meantime, it had only been six months since Colton was sworn into the Sterling Heights Police Department. He was barely on the force and technically could be let go for anything, at any time.
“He was on probation for a year, and he’s got to tell them, ‘I have to have surgery, I have take care of this and that.’”,
The department though, was more than understanding and kept Colton on the job.
But now, medical bills are piling up.
“I’m on just short-term disability, so there are lost wages,” Colton said. “And then she’s got to take me to chemo appointments, so she can’t work as much as she would want to.”
When fellow officers heard about Colton, Amber and Meredith, they knew they had to jump in, starting by organizing a charity hockey game at the Big Boy Arena in Fraser. It will be a battle of the badges game -- Sterling Heights officers versus Clinton Township officers -- on Sunday, January 22, at 12 p.m.
Any money raised will help with the Conley’s expenses.
“It doesn’t matter that time he’s had on the job here, he’s a great guy,” said Sterling Heights police Lt. Mario Bastianelli. “We take care of our own, and we have such a great community behind us.”
“They didn’t have to do anything,” Colton said in disbelief. “You know, I’m just the new guy.”
Colton is also having a hard time accepting the help, and says he’ll be paying it forward as soon as he’s healthy enough.
“One of our plans is to start a nonprofit for police officers who may have cancer. To be able to pay it forward to people who are going through something similar that I am,” he said.
Tickets for the game will be sold at the door for $10.
You can also help the Coltons by donating to their GoFundMe campaign right here.