Panama City Beach to receive free lasik surgery after winning contest

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)– It was supposed to be just another fire shift for Jason Bowden, instead he got the gift of a lifetime, a free Lasik eye surgery procedure from the Bay County Chamber of Commerce and The Eye Center of North Florida.

“We’ve been awarding free Lasik to a first responder for about 10 years now,” said marketing director, Kristina Williams.

The recipient is normally announced at the Bay County First Responder annual luncheon, but this year due to COVID-19, the event didn’t happen. Instead, Bowden’s friends and family surprised him at his Panama City Beach Fire station.

His wife, Kimberly Bowden, wrote his nomination, and kept the secret for two weeks.

“His wife really was able to paint a picture of how he selflessly serves the community, not only as a fireman but in his personal life as well,” said Williams.

“Jason was actually a third-generation firefighter, his dad was, and his dad’s dad. Jason is the most kind and humble, and most patient person I have ever met,” said his wife, Kimberly.

Kimberly said her husband used to always get on her about taking her contacts out, as she had an ulcer in one of her eyes.

“And now it stresses me out when he doesn’t take out his contacts and it used to be the other way around,” Kimberly said.

As a firefighter, Bowden works 48-hour shifts, meaning he has to sleep in his contacts to ensure that he’s ready if he receives a call in the middle of the night.

“Obviously that’s not recommended by any doctor and so it makes it hard in the middle of the night any time we get calls, and then having to drive a pretty heavy piece of equipment down the road while your eyes are dry and a little bit irritated,” Bowden said.

It was a “pinch-me” moment for Bowden, still in disbelief his suffering may soon be over.

“I never win anything so I’m pretty excited about the opportunity,” Bowden said.

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Luke Everdeen

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