Brookhaven, GA, December 21, 2016 – by Trey Benton – An outpouring of support for Brookhaven Police Officer Joel Coward, who is battling stage 3 stomach cancer, enabled the Brookhaven Police Foundation to present him with a $23,000 check Wednesday, a portion of the amount raised in less than three days via a GoFundMe campaign. The fund was set up to aid Officer Coward with expenses he is and will continue to incur during this fight.
“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.” He says he is continuing to remain positive and is looking forward to spending the Holidays with his family.
Officer Coward was joined by fellow officers, Brookhaven Police Foundation President JD Clockadale, Brookhaven Police Foundation Members Stuart Marsden and Mayor John Ernst, Police Chief Gary Yandura and IberiaBank VP Fred Andrew, who presented him with the donation.
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.
“I am just happy to have a city that is willing to donate to get you back to where you need to be,” said Clockadale. “We’ve still got money coming in. People are still donating and we’re up to the $26,000 mark.” Clockadale said his sister is a police officer in Orlando and donations have been coming in from there as well as the state of Florida.
Mayor John Ernst said, “I thank the community out there for stepping up.” He said he has been watching the donation mark and is amazed at the level of support and “how the Brookhaven community can rally around one of their own.”
According to the Foundation, Joel 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 for Joel 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% decrease in his salary while on long-term disability.
Joel is a veteran who served his country in the United States Navy. Joel began his law enforcement career with the Gwinnett County Police Department in 2008. In 2015, Joel became a valued member of the City of Brookhaven Police Department. As a police officer, Joel has dedicated his career to protecting the communities he has served as well as being there for his fellow brothers and sisters in blue. His fellow officers describe Joel as one of the most upbeat and caring people they know.