Jeepers 'drop their tops' for annual event

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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - On Saturday, 19 jeep owners drove off from East Houghton Waterfront Park in support of “Go Topless Day.”

For three hours, the group cruised around town to explore different scenic stops and take pictures.

Even though Mother Nature wasn't cooperating, some still let their tops down, even if it meant getting wet.

"I'd love for the weather to be better, but the response has been amazing,” said Host, Tom Swetich.

The focus of the event was to have fun, but it was also about giving back to the community.

"We are raising money for the Brody Strong Foundation,” said Swetich.
Brody Etelamaki was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013. After six hours of surgery, the doctors declared Brody had cancer.

He and his family were airlifted to MD Anderson Cancer Research Center in Houston, Texas to receive treatment.

However, after multiple rounds of surgery and radiation, Brody died at the age of four, one year after his diagnosis.

"After he passed away, we established a foundation in his honor, the Brody Strong Foundation, to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research, and to date we've donated roughly $40,000 to MD Anderson,” said Tanya Etelamaki, Brody’s mother.

After hearing their story, Swetich wanted to help. At Saturday’s event, he had a table full of t-shirts, flags and stickers for people to purchase.

With their help, Swetich was able to raise more than $1,000.

"As a parent myself, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to end up with that diagnosis. If our fun today can help even just one family, it's absolutely worth every rain drop,” he explained.

"This means so much to me and my family to have the support from the community to continue to raise money and awareness for his foundation so that other children do not have to go through what he went through, and other families hopefully one day won't have to hear the words your child has cancer,” said Etelamaki.

Swetich looks forward to hosting the event again next year, with plenty of sunshine to celebrate the tradition the right way.