By Becky Celestini
There are love stories … and there are Bronco love stories. Michael and Maureen’s is the perfect combo of both. After 24 years of ups and downs, this Vermont couple just added another chapter to their story when Michael surprised Maureen with the keys to a new Bronco.
Their beginning was really quite simple. Boy goes into a bar. Boy meets girl playing bar games. Boy falls for a beautiful smile and crazy gorgeous blue eyes.
“I met Maureen after work at a bar at Mount Snow, where she was a ski instructor –– and is now the Ski School Director,” said Michael (BN member @VT802Bronco). “Maureen was winning; there was lots of laughter, and I asked my friend who she was. After a bit, she agreed to go on a date — and I told my friend Steve after that first date that I was going to marry her. I was right!”
The rest, they say, is history. They tied the knot with a big wedding celebration, surrounded by 275 of their closest family and friends, took an incredible honeymoon to Ireland, and began their life together. They built their dream home and shared an idyllic New England life with their three amazing sons, ages 26, 20, and 15. Together, the family loves to go out on their ski boat, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, hunting, hiking, sailing, and skiing in the winter.
And then, six years ago, the unthinkable happened: Maureen was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was discovered during routine mammograms that Maureen had three separate tumors and some microscopic involvement in her sentinel node. This was devastating news for the family, as their Warrior was now facing the battle of her life. They sought multiple opinions to determine her best treatment options. And, after years of many painful surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy — which made her very ill and caused her to lose her hair — Maureen is now cancer free.
“There are still challenges and worries every day, but Maureen is alive, and we still get to do what we want. She soldiers through it and rarely complains, never makes excuses,” said Michael. Today, she supports other women battling the disease and continues to keep busy with her work as the first woman ski school director at Mount Snow. Her new Bronco will make it easier to get to and from work on the muddy, snowy roads.
“This is why I think she is a Warrior. She went off to battle, saw and experienced lots of horrible stuff and lives with the scars and damage every single day,” said Michael. “She worries the cancer could return. You would never know it if you met her in person. You would just see that beautiful smile and those great eyes. She would invite you in and make sure you were fed and taken care of. Because that is who she is. A kick-ass warrior, a loving wife, an amazing mom, and my best friend. No excuses, no complaints. I couldn’t wait to give her this Bronco.”
Reserving Maureen's Bronco
Maureen drove minivans for almost all of her married life. While they worked well to move their kids around and transport skis and gear, Maureen needed a change. “Last winter she got frustrated with the 2WD drive minivan and started taking my 4WD drive truck,” said Michael. “So then I had to drive the minivan, and she drove my F-150 (with like six hair scrunchies on the shifter!). I needed that Bronco to get here so I could get my truck back!”
The couple had already begun looking for a new vehicle when it was announced that the Bronco was coming back. Michael shared it with Maureen, and he said her eyes got big, and she right away said, “Wow, that is the coolest thing … I want that!” They agreed to put the deposit down, and Michael made his reservation close to the rollout in July 2020. “I started regretting having showed it to her, because I realized I wanted to surprise her. So I told her it was more than we should spend, and we agreed to look at some small crossovers like the CRV or the Escape.” Maureen continued to mention the Bronco, but Michael lied and told her he had cancelled their reservation. “I felt AWFUL!"
Maureen was obviously disappointed but understood. On a mission to find herself the perfect new vehicle, she test drove many different options last summer. But this breast cancer survivor was not doing it alone. Maureen continued her car search with her sister, who was suddenly facing her own breast cancer battle. Maureen took on the supportive sister role, going to appointments with her sister and helping her through the process. “After her appointments, my sister would not always be feeling great, so we’d go to dealerships and test drive cars,” said Maureen. “We would be like Thelma and Louise and drive down the road with the sunroof open and just have fun.” And despite never even seeing a Bronco in “real life” during any of those adventures, that remained at the top of her list. Little did she know …
Building Maureen's Bronco
Michael kept working behind the scenes to get the Bronco just right. The original plan was to give Maureen the Bronco for their 24th wedding anniversary on August 9th of this year. And with an initial build date the week of June 7, 2021 — Michael was optimistic it was going to happen. But, just like so many other Bronco Nation members, Maureen’s Bronco was delayed. And delayed. And delayed. NINE times, in fact. As frustrating as the delays were, Michael saw this as an opportunity to save a little more money for the Bronco and accessories.
Michael chose a two-door model over a four-door for a couple of reasons. “I thought the shorter wheelbase would be easier to park and maneuver in the crowded mountain parking lot. I also wanted to stay true to the original Bronco,” he said. “And if we need more space, we have my truck.” At first, Michael said he was worried he was building a “Michael Bronco.” But he knows his wife well, and the pair had multiple conversations about what Maureen wanted in a vehicle, so he made all the selections. Here’s the scoop on the build:
- Outer Banks in Antimatter Blue (blue and black are Maureen’s favorite car colors, so this can be both)
- It has the Roast cloth interior (she only likes cloth seats)
- High package; auxiliary switches, towing, keyless entry, roof rack, floor liners, 2.7L V6 and automatic
Maureen loves to stand-up paddle board and kayak with friends, so she can throw her board and kayak on the rack or, if that gets to be too much, Michael said he’d get her a trailer and she can tow them to the lake.
He also added the following to customize Maureen’s Bronco, because he wanted “the truck to be uniquely hers”:
- Anodized blue wheels and 33” winter tires
- Nudge bar and LED fog light
- Matte black mountain graphics on the rear side windows
- Mud flaps
- A Thule® ski cargo box
He also just ordered some 5” Sasquatch fender flairs to add on. And if someone builds a convertible roof section that replaces the front hard top panel section, he said Maureen would enjoy that, too.
Revealing Maureen's Bronco
While Michael had a few different plans to surprise Maureen with her Bronco, the continual production delays made that a challenge, and he ended up giving his wife her new Bronco on a regular Friday after work. Maureen just had “one of those days,” and Michael knew the perfect way to change the mood. The vehicle had been hiding out at the house of their friends Chris and Julie for two weeks, and it was time to break that Bronco free from the stable.
“I just had a really bad day. And suddenly, Michael gave me a box. I opened it, and there was a little toy car inside (which looks exactly like my Bronco). I said, ‘Well, this is cute … why are you giving me a MatchBox car?' Michael said, ‘Because it’s yours.’ I asked him, ‘What do you mean it’s mine?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go for a drive.’”
Next thing Maureen knew, Michael was driving her through a little Vermont snowstorm to go meet her Bronco. She got out of the car, and their son, William, pulled her hat down over her eyes so Maureen couldn't see the Bronco until Michael backed it out of the garage. Watch the video, and you’ll see the emotional reveal brought out everything from happy laughter to happy tears.
“I was IN SHOCK,” said Maureen. Michael, who worked hard to keep this secret for 18 months, asked her if she was actually surprised. “I was 100% surprised. And I just love it! Apparently Ford kept sending these “We’re sorry” gifts to the house, because it kept getting delayed and delayed. So Michael and our son Thomas were having to intercept them in the mail to keep me from seeing anything.”
What does Maureen love most about her Bronco? Everything. “It’s the whole package, to be honest with you. I love the color. The wheels. The cloth seats. The decals. The dash with the 12” screen and navigation,” she said. “And it’s 4WD, so I definitely feel more secure. I’ve driven it a few times in the snow now, and it’s such a solid vehicle … it just so nice to feel safe.”
Maureen’s Bronco has become somewhat of a celebrity in their town, with people sending her photos of the vehicle when they spot it in the wild. She said her son’s friend let her know he was driving behind her the other day. Another friend said they saw her Bronco parked at the bank. “It’s hilarious. I get photos sent to me all the time from people at the ski resort who spot it in the lot or park next to me,” she said. “It’s been really fun sharing this with others.”
“I’ve never had anything frivolous before that’s just for me. So this is amazing,” said Maureen. “It’s really hard for me to think that I deserve it, because you go through life and you have what you have, and you get what you get.”
Michael will tell you it’s that humility that makes Maureen so special, and why there is no doubt that his wife deserves her Bronco. “She never asks for ANYTHING. I’ve had all kinds of cool toys and things, and she never says a peep. Never says anything at all,” said Michael. “My wife has been through so much and just deserved something special … and that Bronco makes her feel special.”
And so, after nearly 18 months of keeping the secret and dealing with multiple production delays, Michael successfully pulled off the surprise of a lifetime for his warrior wife, Maureen. May this next chapter of their Bronco love story be filled with good health, much happiness, and endless fun with their Bronco.
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