Sirens blared, horns honked and well-wishers shouted congratulations Monday evening, May 11, as 125 vehicles paraded down Main Street in Shoemakersville.
The jubilant outpouring, a dramatic departure from the silence imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, was in celebration of a teenager’s triumph over adversity.
Devin Shupp, 16, emerged successful from a life-endangering battle against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the body’s immune system.
On May 11, his brother Justin Willman said, Devin had finished his final chemotherapy treatment.
Justin, a Hamburg High School graduate, was by his brother’s side during the arduous, weeks-long process of combating the cancerous condition.
“It was rough, but he never gave up,” Justin said. “It was awesome; he kept getting stronger and stronger.”
Devin, a sophomore at Hamburg High, stood on his front porch as the blocks-long parade passed by the family home in the 700 block of Main Street.
His father, Jason Shupp, and his companion Jennifer Citjuk lent their support. Justin, too, stood by his brother.
A banner on the porch marked the date. May 11, 2020, Devin had completed his treatment.
Justin was instrumental in arranging the parade with officials at Shoemakersville Fire Co. No. 1. The arrangements were kept secret from Devin.
Dave Rhubright, assistant fire chief, put the word out among neighboring volunteer fire companies. He never anticipated such a large turnout.
“We’re proud at the way everybody came together,” Rhubright said.
Four of Shoemakerville’s apparatus led the parade, which left the fire company around 6:30 p.m. and meandered through the borough to Main Street.
Among those participating in the parade, David Reimer Sr. said, "Even during one of the toughest times in this country’s history, the outpouring of community support for Devin was amazing, absolutely amazing. From what started out as a couple dozen fire trucks, EMS and police units, the parade turned into a couple hundred. When we started the route at 6:30, I saw folks from every part of Berks County and beyond. The message here was loud and clear. This community has his back, are proud of him and that we’ll be there for him no matter what."
In addition to fire apparatus, the line of march included EMS vehicles and even tow trucks.
“I’m speechless about how this community came together for my brother,” Justin said.
There’s strength, he said, in numbers.
“I told Devin nobody fights alone,” Justin confided. “I wanted to prove to him that he was never alone.”