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Survival Surprise Party

By Alixan Spaulding

Ranger Steve Mueller on an outing at Howard Christensen Nature Center. He plans to remain involved with the Nature Center as much as his health permits.

Ranger Steve Mueller on an outing at Howard Christensen Nature Center. He plans to remain involved with the Nature Center as much as his health permits.

Sometimes the best medicine can be the love and support of one’s friends and family. Just ask Steve Mueller, of Cedar Springs, who is best known to the community as “Ranger Steve.”  On April 1, 2008, Mueller, who has multiple myeloma, was told he could not reasonably expect to live more than one to three years from that date.  Steve hasn’t let that slow him down one bit; living a full and productive life seems to keep him strong. He continues his work as an award-winning naturalist and teacher just trying to connect people with nature.

On April 1, 2011, three years after his diagnosis, Mueller was recovering from a bout of pneumonia when his wife and daughters convinced him to go out for a walk. When Steve returned to Ody Brook that evening, he found a surprise party waiting for him. Many of his friends had shown up to celebrate Mueller’s survival beyond the statistically expected. “It was like receiving 50 shots of antibiotic that evening when I returned home to find 50 people who truly do want to see me continue to survive and to continue to contribute productively,” spoke Steve of the occasion. “Friday evening I received the greatest curing treatment with their presence and well wishes.” The celebration left Mueller feeling much better, so he wanted to express his heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the many well wishers involved with the party, and all those who support and encourage his survival.

Steve once said, “Some people go to work for a profession, but I have gone to work because it is a passion.” It certainly shows in the way he lives his life. Steve, once director of the newly reopened Howard Christensen Nature Center, plans to keep volunteering and stay involved with the Center as much as possible. He will also be running more than one program for children, including a program called the Outernet Project this summer, in which they will learn about butterflies, other insects, and nature in general. Mueller, who discovered a new species of moth known as the brilliant virgin tiger moth, has a strongly positive attitude toward life, saying, “Cancer is just a bump along the way.”

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