AUSTIN, Texas -- A Central Texas high school community is raising money to help its beloved school resource officer. Many of the students and staff have not seen him since last fall, when a sudden pain quickly sent him to the emergency room. 

  • Austin High resource officer's foot amputated
  • Says won't be sidelined by surgery
  • Fundraiser for medical expenses

Officer T.J. Hernandez stopped by Austin High School on Friday, where he has been the school resource officer for the past three years. He has been serving the district for 14 years. 

"We're not just here for the bad things, we're here for the good things, you know, if they need help, even if they need a shoulder to cry on, or if they want to sit in one of our offices, because they need time to cool off. We want them to know that that we're here for them," Hernandez said.

Throughout the afternoon, students and staff greeted him with hugs. 

In October, Hernandez said he felt a pain in his heel that made it difficult to walk. He was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone. Although Hernandez had surgery in November, the extreme discomfort and feeling of sickness did not go away. Hernandez made the difficult choice earlier this year to go through with amputation. In the past month, he has been recovering and going to rehabilitation, yet still very eager to get back to work. 

“I worked too hard and too long to get to where I'm at to have this be a career ender. I made that clear to a lot of my command staff that this was not going to be a career ender for me, t​hat I was going to get up after falling down into and come back to work,” Hernandez said.

Students and staff say Hernandez is missed. 

"He's able to connect with students with parents, and because he has a rapport with the students, students tend to look for him and ask for guidance from him. As much as he is our SRO, they actually look for him for counseling as well," said Linda Garcia, the management assistant to the principal of Austin High School.

Austin ISD police and the district are joining Hernandez's friends and family to raise $20,000 toward medical expenses. AISD Police also hosting a barbecue benefit at Austin High School on Saturday May 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a raffle. 

To donate, click here.