SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- Normally, we look to police officers to keep us safe. But in Gwinnett County, the community is now rallying to protect one of its own.
Detective Victor Cortez is no stranger to dangerous situations. The gang investigator works daily to keep county streets safe. The 35-year-old has also served as a U.S. Army Ranger, twice deployed to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.
Yet, it was hearing the word cancer that rocked the young father to his core.
'I was pretty upset. That's one of the few times I broke down and cried for awhile," Cortez said.
Doctors diagnosed Cortez in July 2017, discovering stage 4 stomach cancer which had spread to his lungs. The news was devastating for the couple, who have a 2-year-old, Mackenzie.
At the time, Cortez's wife Jessica was also pregnant with their son Lucas.
"My princess is my entire world and my son is my everything,' Cortez said.
Now on medical leave and undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Cortez is rallied by community support, including that of his brothers and sisters in blue.
"I couldn't do this without my Gwinnett Co. police family. My brothers and sisters that are out there working right now," Cortez said. "Gwinnett County has been amazing. They've helped me so much."
In just five days, a fundraiser set up to assist the Cortez family with medical expenses has raised more than $30,000.
Members of the department even surprised the family with a tree-full of presents for Christmas, the young family lifted by the comfort of the community and the outpouring of support.
"The only positive thing in this whole situation has been the support we've gotten from everybody," Jessica Cortez said. "People have been telling us 'I wish I could cure the cancer for you, but the least I can do is help you not worry about the financial aspect of this.'"
"Victor is a true asset to this department and the community," a spokesperson for the police department said. "It’s heart-breaking that he is suffering from such medical issues. We hope that his treatment is successful and he makes a full recovery."