A church full of supporters gathered this weekend to show appreciation for Richmond County schools Superintendent Frank Roberson while he recovers from a serious medical condition.
Members of Old Storm Branch Baptist Church in Beech Island held a two-hour service with music and speakers Saturday evening before Roberson addressed the crowd.
"It lifted me tremendously," Roberson said of the service. "It lifted my spirits and my entire family. It boosted them as well."
Despite saying he is making "tremendous progress" in his recovery, Roberson said he is still unsure when he will return to leading the school district.
"The best estimate I can give is, soon," he said.
Roberson took medical leave in February after he had emergency brain surgery for a previously undetected condition. Doctors at Medical College of Georgia Hospital discovered an arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, which is an abnormal clustering of blood vessels in the brain.
Since then, Roberson has had to relearn to walk and still undergoes physical therapy three times per week. Deputy Superintendent James Whitson is serving as acting superintendent while Roberson recovers.
The church service was a way to bring the community together for Roberson, but it was not the first public appearance he has made since falling ill.
In July, Roberson was an inspirational speaker at the Northern Georgia Second Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction annual scholarship event at the DoubleTree Hotel Augusta.
While there, Roberson told a group of recent high school graduates that they had everything they needed to succeed within themselves.
School board member Marion Barnes said the fact that Roberson is supporting others during his own illness is remarkable.
Barnes said Roberson's comments on Saturday inspired the crowd, as the superintendent described his condition after surgery and the effort it took to be able to walk and talk again.
"He sounded like he was going to leave the school system and go into the ministry," Barnes said of Roberson's inspirational remarks.
After he heard about Roberson's diagnosis, Barnes said he read up on AVMs and talked to people in the community who had family members with the same condition.
Realizing the severity of the condition put the whole experience into perspective, he said.
"That man has made a remarkable recovery," Barnes said. "When he comes back, he's really going to be an inspiration in addition to what he already was."