NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - There are law enforcement officers across the nation who feel unappreciated.
Mark Morris, a Nacogdoches County bailiff, is not one of them. A benefit barbecue was held in his honor Thursday.
Morris continues to have severe speech, sight, and balance issues after an inmate allegedly assaulted him last month. The incident led to a fall down a Nacogdoches County Courthouse stairwell.
The sheriff's deputy couldn't attend Thursday's event, but his co-workers felt his presence.
During the two-hour event hundreds lined up barbecue plate.
"Five chickens and 16 briskets," a volunteer said. "Bright Coop. Go Bright Coop."
There was enough to feed everyone and their dog.
"Four briskets, 230 pounds of chicken, and 6 cases of sausage," said Chief Deputy Stephen Godfrey with Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office.
Nacogdoches County employees rolled up their sleeves to help Morris, one of their own.
"They've done it before and they're doing it again," said Nacogdoches County Judge Mike Perry. "It's great that we help our fellow workers."
Morris is working hard to get well for his family who are at home and at work.
"We were visiting him Sunday and his speech is not good, his hands still tremble," said Doris Terry, Morris' mother-in-law. "It's going to take a while."
The 16-year veteran is a fighter. Former co-workers never forget his dedication.
"We just like him. He used to work for the county," said Royce Garrett, a Lufkin resident. He's a very good decent man and we just want to make sure we support him."
The plates were $10. Many customers handed over much more.
"We appreciate it," a probation officer said.
The timing couldn't be better. Following a spell across the nation of lost public servants to violence, benefits like this take on a wider significance.
Vietnam veteran and Patriot Guard member Michael Neely was there to say thank you to all peace officers.
"Because they protect us," Neely said.
"They do their job and, you know, it's a job that needs to be done, and they're doing it and I appreciate it," said Ida James, a customer at the car dealership.
You can take comfort in the fact that there are those from a younger generation who feel the same way.
"And they're protecting this country," said J.D. Sturgeon, an 8-year-old.
"Our community always, whether it's for a peace officer or somebody else in our community, we always rally around good causes," said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges. "And this is no exception."
Morris couldn't attend today's event, but a phone call was made to his Groveton home. Despite a severe stutter, Morris was determined to express, quite successfully, a heartfelt, "Thank you."
In all, a total of $10,115 was raised at today's benefit barbecue.
It's still not too late to help out.
Raffle tickets for great prizes will be sold through September 30 at the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office.
Also, all donations will be accepted there too.