Music filled the auditorium at a suburban high school Saturday as family, friends and neighbors gathered to show support for a police officer who was seriously injured in a domestic disturbance earlier this month.
Bensenville Police Officer Steven Kotlewski appeared via FaceTime, thanking those who gathered at Fenton High School for their love and support.
“Look, I just want to say thank you for all the gifts,” he said. “I mean I’m doing good all things considered, but nothing hurts more than not being around to see my babies everyday.”
Kotlewski became emotional, speaking publicly for the first time about his recovery and about his three kids—determined to get better for them.
Get Chicago local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Chicago newsletters.
“Everything you’ve given me is going to my kids,” he said. “I can’t express anymore gratitude thank you.”
The 11-year veteran officer is taking part in rehab after being shot eight times in early November.
“It was unbelievable what happened, very lucky that he’s actually pulling through,” said Andrew Mroszczak. “Happy that he’s recovering right now.”
Village leaders designated Saturday as a day of support for the officer, holding a blood drive and candlelight vigil before making it over to the high school where Austin Edwards of America’s Got Talent put on a special performance for the officer’s family.
Frank DeSimone, Bensenville village president, got a chance to see the officer in person for Thanksgiving and said the community is behind him every step of the way.
“We all take care of one another no matter who you are, what are you, live in, we all come together,” DeSimone said. “Unfortunately it was this tragedy that we had to come together, but even through COVID, everyone banded together. That’s what we call Bensenville strong.”