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Restoration Eye Care, home to Mid-Missouri’s leading Cataract and LASIK surgeon, Dr. Timothy McGarity held a special event for first responders this past May. REC takes pride in being active in our community, and serving those who selflessly work to keep our town safe. All police, fire, EMT, 911 dispatch, hospital personnel, etc. in and around the Columbia area were invited to the REC facility this past summer for free LASIK consultations, lunch, and special savings. An online nomination was held for a lucky first responder to receive a FREE LASIK procedure, detailing who the first responder was, and why they were deserving of this offer. Many touching nominations were received, making the decision difficult.

Thomas Schonhardt was chosen as the winner of the free LASIK procedure, due to the story of the obstacles he has overcome to be where he is today.

Thomas’ wife Laura shared his story, describing one life changing night in 2009 when he was violently attacked by a random assailant, leaving him with multiple facial fractures, broken orbitals, nose, and chipped teeth. This resulted in 5 facial reconstructive surgeries with plates on the left side of his face. Upon waking in the hospital, Thomas learned the outcome could have been very different if it weren’t for the law enforcement, fire department, EMS, and hospital staff’s quick intervention. He learned his injuries were not just physical, but emotional as well.

Wanting to dedicate his life to those who saved him became his calling, beginning his pursuit of Fire/EMS through night classes, all while working full time. He started his journey volunteering with Boone County Fire Protection District, prior to joining Cooper County Ambulance Service in Boonville. Moving toward his passion, Thomas was able to quit his job to work full time at The Liberty Fire Dept. until he finally achieved his goal of working for the Columbia Fire Dept. after years of hard work, dedication, and persistence.

Thomas no longer suffers from irritating contacts or glasses when he is on the job, helping him focus on his passion of helping those in need.