PANAMA CITY, Fla. - On Monday, 28-year-old Dustin Patterson was surprised with a huge gift that wouldn't fit under a Christmas tree.
The Panama City Police officer was selected as this year's winner for the 'Lasik for Local Heroes' campaign.
This is the 6th year The Bay County Chamber of Commerce and the Eye Center of North Florida awarded a deserving first responder with free laser eye surgery.
"My vision is absolutely horrible," admitted Patterson.
Although Patterson nominated himself, he didn't see this surprise coming.
"I walked in I realized oh, I can't believe they got it over that easy," said Patterson.
Patterson applied for the nomination not once, but twice.
"We do encourage if someone gets nominated or entered before to continue to do so because we have so many deserving first responders," said ECNF Marketing Director Kristina Williams.
As a corporal for the street crimes unit, time is precious for Patterson.
"There's been times I've been called from the house to say, hey we need you here right now, you need to come lights and sirens," said Patterson.
The vision will help him as a full time police officer, but also as a full time father to his baby girl.
"Little things like trying to find her pacifier is a struggle in the middle of the night. So while she's crying if you don't get that 'paci' within the first couple of minutes.Then it's a journey trying to get her back to sleep," said Patterson.
Patterson's thankful he can finally toss out his contact lenses.
"I don't even know what to say. I'm just so happy to get this. I'm really looking forward to it," said Patterson.
His surgery is scheduled on December 21st, just in time for Christmas.
First responders can nominate themselves, or someone else can enter them.
Next year's campaign will begin accepting names around October at the 'Chamber of Commerce's First Responders Luncheon'.
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