“No doubt about that,” the Heflin police officer said, surrounded by well-wishers at the Heflin Recreation Center.
Stovall, injured in a shootout in December, was presented with the 2012 Fraternal Order of Police Merrill-Bentley Memorial Lodge 79 Officer of the Year Award and a check for $10,000.
He just wished he could have gotten them without being shot.
More than 100 attendees wandered into the recreation center banquet hall decorated with blue and black balloons in honor of Stovall and his family.
Josh Horn, president of the FOP lodge, said Stovall was being awarded for his bravery.
“The vote was unanimous,” he said.
In December, Stovall was struck in the groin by a round from an AK-47 rifle. That gun was wielded by Romero Roberto Moya, who police say shot his three brothers to death and wounded his young son before leading officers on the chase in which Stovall was wounded. Even after being shot, Stovall still attempted to pursue Moya, his colleagues said Friday night.
John Kelley, who has known Stovall for years, said he came to the ceremony because Stovall is like a brother.
“That’s just the way it is and I’m going to support him in any way I can,” he said.
Stacy Benefield and her young daughter Kadie said they came to honor Stovall for his sacrifice.
“We’re here to show support to the police officer for protecting our citizens,” Kadie said.
Mitchell Upchurch, an officer with the FOP lodge, said a $10,000 check would be presented to the family from donations pooled together from 38 different sponsors.
Upchurch said that since tickets to the ceremony cost $10, the Stovall family would likely receive another $1,000 by the end of the night.
Now, Stovall has another hard task at hand. He’s itching to get back to work, like any passionate cop.
Stovall said he had his last in a series of surgeries June 10 and is now focusing on rehabilitation, where he will re-learn to put pressure on his leg.
“I thought the last surgery would be the easiest but it’s been the hardest,” Stovall said. “They told me it would make me climb up the wall and they were right.”
Stovall cannot walk on his own without crutches and uses a wheelchair to get around. He said he has been discouraged with his recovery so far because he expected to be walking again by the fall. Because of nerve pain, he might have to wait until spring.
“I get frustrated but I keep telling myself we’re going to make it and walk again,” Stovall said.
Heflin police Chief AJ Benefield, said Stovall has to undergo five to six months of rehab before he’ll be able to come back to work.
“I don’t know after that,” Benefield said. “The biggest struggle is trying to get back to where he was before Dec. 15.”
Though one thing he cannot wait for is to get back to work, another thing he’s looking forward to is the upcoming fall football season.
“My son starts football this fall at Oxford High School,” he said. “I have a whole three months of football ahead of me and that helps me feel better most days.”
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.