Officer Michael Hance became a viral sensation when he twerked with an LGBT Pride marcher during Manhattan’s Pride Week 2015. But now, the man who became a symbol of progress has died of brain cancer that he developed as a result of working at the site of the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001.
In November, Hance collapsed in front of his home and complained of dizziness, according to his brother, Peter Hance. Hance was then discovered to be suffering from a brain tumor, which had metastasized into his lungs, liver and chest. He died on Sunday, leaving behind his daughters Kaitlyn, 12, and Jenna, 10.
“Those two daughters were his life,” his brother said. “They’re going through a rough time right now.”
Hance developed the cancer after being exposed to the debris and dust while working as part of a bucket brigade at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks.
“He always liked to help people,” said Peter Hance. “He always liked to do good.”
Hance also showed the love in his heart in the viral video in which he danced with a gay man during the LGBT Pride rally.
“The officer was just standing there, stoic, not really doing anything, just watching the parade, and Aaron just started dancing up against him,” said parade attendee Paige Ponzeka in 2015. “A little while into it, the officer just started dancing with him.”
“That was the best part … that he was straight and was still having fun at the parade,” she said. “That was a great message to send. A lot of cops have a tough-guy vibe, but he had the vibe that you can have fun and there was nothing wrong with that.”