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Honorees beat paralysis, cancer to continue as cops
The Theodore Roosevelt Association honored two Long Island police officers yesterday with its annual Police Award, for overcoming physical challenges to continue their law enforcement careers.
Police Officer Peter Chuchul of the Nassau County Police Department and Detective Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick of the Suffolk County Police Department received their awards in a ceremony at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay.
“The real theme is overcoming some sort of adversity and then being able to go back to work as a full-time police officer,” said association executive director Laurence Pels.
Chuchul, a 27-year veteran, underwent spinal surgery in 2010 to avoid an onset of permanent paralysis. After a little more than a year of working to regain muscle strength and nervous system control, he returned to full-time police work.
Fitzpatrick, a 38-year veteran, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2011, but after treatment returned to work in 2012 as commanding officer of the homicide section.
Written statements by their respective police commissioners commended the officers for their resolve and determination.
The Theodore Roosevelt Association, which its website describes as being “dedicated to perpetuating the memory and ideals of Theodore Roosevelt,” approves nominations made by the police commissioners from Nassau and Suffolk. The association gives out the awards in cities nationwide and started to do so on Long Island in 1995.