BROOKHAVEN, Ga. - Brookhaven Police Officer Joel Coward, who is battling stage 3 stomach cancer was presented a check for $23,000 on Wednesday and is close to surpassing $30,000.
The Brookhaven Police Foundation raised a portion of that amount in less than three days via a GoFundMe campaign. "I am really humbled by the outpouring of support and I am going to remain positive. I am very thankful for my family - both my work family and my actual family," said Coward.
The fund was set up to aid Officer Coward with expenses he is and will continue to incur during this fight. The community has rallied around the Officer after the call for assistance.
"The guys were offering up their vacation days so Officer Coward could get extra days off," said JD Clockadale, President of the Brookhaven Police Foundation. "The response has been overwhelming." Clockadale told FOX 5 that two members of the Brookhaven community have come forward to pay for Coward's electric and gas bills for the entire year. "Ronnie Mayer, who owns R Mayer Towing Company and Art Brown from Brown and Brown Wrecker Company have pledged $125.00 a month for an entire year to help pay Coward's electric and gas bills."
"I believe I am a living testimony of what God's plan is for me," said an emotional Officer Coward. "I never would have thought in a million years that I would get the support that I am getting right now. I just want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for everything that you are doing for me at this time right now."
Coward is a veteran who served his country in the United States Navy. Coward began his law enforcement career with the Gwinnett County Police Department in 2008. In 2015, Coward became a valued member of the City of Brookhaven Police Department.
According to the Foundation, Coward noticed that he was unexpectedly losing weight at a rapid pace in September of 2016, as well as losing his appetite. After consulting with his doctor, he received devastating news - he has stage 3 stomach cancer and a tumor the size of a grapefruit.
The treatment plan is to continue chemo into 2017, followed by surgery to attempt to remove the tumor from his stomach. This surgery will cause Joel to be placed on disability during his recovery resulting in a 40 percent decrease in his salary while on long-term disability.
The donations are continuing to roll in and the Foundation is asking for the public's generosity to continue. The GoFundMe page can be found here.
Coward says he is continuing to remain positive and is looking forward to spending the Holidays with his family. For more information on the Brookhaven Police Foundation: CLICK HERE.