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Photojournalist whose stories have saved many homeless, raising money after terminal cancer diagnosis

Posted at 5:32 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 15:39:14-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A West Michigan photojournalist whose stories have helped the homeless, even saved lives, is asking for some help for the first time. Two weeks ago he was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer.

Shaun DeWolf, 38, is one of the most humble men you'll meet: a guy behind too many kind acts in the greater Grand Rapids area to list.

He's a husband, father of two, and a photojournalist who has used his work to make a difference.

“I used to love listening to the police scanner," DeWolf recalled. "That’s how it started, and then from there I bought a camera.”

His first lens turned into a passion. For more than four years he's worked the overnight shift as a freelance photojournalist with FOX 17. DeWolf and his wife Carrie turned his years of work in West Michigan into action: they show a selfless dedication to helping feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.

“A lot of people look at a homeless person and say, ‘oh they’re just a bum, they’re homeless,’ but there’s a story behind them, there’s a story behind every one of us," said DeWolf.

DeWolf's stories have saved lives.

After building trust through funding spaghetti dinners to coat drives for the homeless, DeWolf filmed a man named Robert who was living on the streets of Grand Rapids last winter. He shared some of this on his activist Facebook group, HOPE Team 616, then asked for supporters to donate to their efforts.

Shortly after the last filming with Robert, DeWolf and his wife drove Robert to the hospital: Robert's feet were so frostbitten that his toes were amputated.

"It was sad but the outcome was great: [Robert is] now alcohol-free, living in California," said DeWolf. "So right there was enough for me: I know what I did counted."

Giving without expectation. Then just two weeks ago, DeWolf woke from a biopsy May 23, when he was given crushing news. After a biopsy more than a year ago was negative, last month DeWolf was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“No matter who you are, no matter what age you are, when you hear that cancer word, it’s—it just totally messes you up," said Carrie, sitting with her husband.

Despite the diagnosis, DeWolf said he'll never quit helping others.

"God's still got me here every day, wakes me up.  So he must not be done with yet, still must have a job to do," said DeWolf.  "I'm just going to keep on fighting."

His wish is to take his family to Florida together for the first time before he begins cancer treatment next month, and continue living life to the fullest.

This Saturday June 11 there will also be a car wash fundraiser 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. held at the Wyoming Community Education Center located at: 3600 Byron Center Avenue SW in Wyoming. The DeWolfs will also have pizza for $2 per slice.