PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Although he doesn't wear boxing gloves for a career, many call Paragould Officer Chris Bunch the ultimate fighter.
As students in the Paragould School District headed back to class on Monday, so did Officer Bunch, one of six school resource officers.
"I've been out of the school district and the police department since late January," said Bunch.
Bunch's name may ring a bell.
The Paragould community has rallied behind him since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January.
Many people and organizations have hosted fundraisers for Bunch and his family.
Since his diagnosis, Bunch has had two brain surgeries.
At one point he didn't know what his future looked like, or if he would even have one.
He relied on his faith in God and his determination to return to his students to get him through.
On Monday, Bunch was grateful to park his patrol car outside of Paragould Junior High for the first time in 7 months.
"It's like I was a kid all over again," Bunch said.
While his ultimate goal is to protect the students and teachers on campus, he's using his new life perspective to encourage others.
"I want to bring hope into a seemingly hopeless world," said Bunch. "Pain is a great teacher. I don't like it for myself and I don't like it for others. But, if the children know that problems and pain are real to Officer Bunch as well and I can go on with a smile and face each day with hope, then I'm doing my job."
The veteran police officer knows children coming to school every day are battling their own issues, causing them pain.
His hope for the school year is to encourage those kids to press on.
"I want to make sure every one of these young people knows that they are loved by Officer Bunch and that their life has great value," said Bunch. "I don't know if I would have made it back, if it weren't for these kids. It's something special fighting to get back to them."