The spirit of Buffalo Police Chief Terry "T.J." Behning, now at University Hospitals in Iowa City, was present at Thursday's assembly to honor "every day heroes," or first responders.

Buffalo Elementary School in Buffalo was the site of the assembly, and some of the students wore T-shirts that read: #TJStrong

The event was combined with an anti-bullying program conducted by school counselor Tara Appel. 

First responders who were honored included police officers from Buffalo, Walcott and Davenport, the MEDIC EMS team from Blue Grass, and several military veterans from the Blue Grass American Legion.

The highlight of the hour-long assembly, however, was a video message sent by Behning.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," he said in the message from his hospital room. "You would not believe all the support ... it makes me feel great!

"Everything is going well ... the signs you made me are straight-awesome," Behning said. "I love you guys! Thanks!"

Buffalo officer Josh Bujalski, among those honored on Thursday, said T.J. and his wife, Heidi, have been in good spirits since he was injured Sept. 25.

Behning was hurt when his squad car was struck at the intersection of Scott County Road Y40 and Iowa 22. He was trying to deploy stop sticks in response to police pursuit involving a person who allegedly was driving a stolen vehicle.

The driver of the truck, Logan Jeffery Shoemaker, 20, was arrested shortly after the crash and faces multiple charges, including attempted murder of Behning.

Buffalo students ended the assembly by singing the school's song, which begins: "Our schools in Buffalo, Iowa, USA! I like my school in every way!"

As they left school for the day, they were given candy provided by a Behning family member. 

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