DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. – A Brookhaven police officer battling stomach cancer got an incredible surprise Monday.
WSB-TV’s Wendy Corona first did a story on Officer Joel Coward in December.
Coward was diagnosed with Stage 3 stomach cancer last year. Doctors said he has a tumor the size of a grapefruit inside. Coward has been undergoing chemotherapy ever since.
His fight got the attention of officers in New York — and Monday they stepped up with a chance to bring him a little joy.
The non-profit group Blue Lives Matter NYC wanted to ease the worry of one of their own.
“Being an officer, it’s a brotherhood. No matter what you’re bound by that blue,” said Joseph Imperatrice, the founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC.
The organization flew Coward’s best friends, Detective Jason Reynolds, down from New York, but that was just the beginning.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the Brookhaven Police Department when two childhood friends united.
The secret plan took months to prepare with the help of Brookhaven PD, Coward’s family and Blue Lives Matter NYC.
Detective Reynolds said the group called him and said, “We’re going to surprise him and we’re going to present him what we do for cops.”
They delivered not only Coward’s best friend, but also a check for exactly $1,220.14, to help pay for a trip to Jamaica.
The amount symbolic of Dec. 20, 2014, the day two NYPD detectives were shot and killed.
“Every time we do it, it brings to life them in general – that they’re not forgotten,” said Imperatrice.
In less than three years’ time, Blue Lives Matter NYC went from selling $3 wristbands to becoming a national organization that this time, arrived in Brookhaven to bless a brother in need.
“If we can get them away from the negativity that they’re dealing with and give them positivity, going forward it may change their outlook on what they’re going through,” said Imperatrice.
What Coward is going through now is learning to accept the overwhelming support of others.
“I have my energy. I have my strength. As you see, I have my weight back. So just trust God that he’s going to put the right people in the right position to get you through it,” Coward said.
After Officer Coward returns from his trip to Jamaica, he will have stomach surgery followed by recovery and perhaps another final round of chemotherapy.