CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Sunday was an emotional day for Cheektowaga Police Officer Troy Blackchief as 10 months after he was critically injured in a hit-and-run incident while on duty, Blackchief donned his uniform for the first time.
Blackchief was injured in February and has since faced a long road to recovery, which took him far from home to facilities in both Chicago and Texas. Now, just nine days after returning to Western New York, he was named the recipient of the 2023 Running 4 Heroes Injured First Responder Grant.
“I want to thank you guys for finding the value in what we do as law enforcement and helping us and our families when the chips are down,” Blackchief said while speaking to the media for the first time since the incident.
“I want to thank all my brothers and sisters from [the Cheektowaga Police Department] for carrying on the care for me and for my family,” Blackchief continued.
The money was awarded to Blackchief by the organization Running 4 Heroes, which since its founding in 2019, has donated a minimum of $10,000 each month to a first responder injured in the line of duty.
As of November of this year, Running 4 Heroes has awarded nearly $900,000 in these grants.
The grant is an honor, retired Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould said, that Blackchief deserves.
“For him, it wasn’t, ‘I want to get better so I can drive again or I can go home.’ It was, ‘I want to get better so I can get back to work and that’s been his driving force which is just something amazing to see,” Gould said.
“I definitely want to thank Chief Gould for nominating me for this award,” Blackchief said. “You were there every step of the way.”
Tim Nazzaro, president of Running 4 Heroes, says that Blackchief was the 52nd first responder to receive the award and that the goal of Saturday was to honor him and recognize the fighting spirit that he showed the community.
“We admire his tenacity. We honor his service, and we’re very happy to still have him with us here today,” Nazzaro said.
Current Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Coons said Saturday that he hopes to get Blackchief back to work and re-acclimated into the CPD family in the upcoming new year.
“Officers have been coming into my office saying, ‘I saw Troy driving down French Road.’ It’s like a Troy sighting,” Coons said. “So, it’s good for everybody and it’s good to have him back home. It’s good to have him back in town where we can actually look after him ourselves.”