ST PAUL, Minn. — "A lot of hard work, its finally come to fruition though, for sure," said retired Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson.
Perhaps no one has put in more work over the last three years than Matson himself.
"Learning to walk again was really really challenging," he said.
Matson was shot in the head while responding to call in January of 2020, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury.
"Every day I just got to wake up and try to be grateful for my life and then go workout and try to get back to some of my abilities that seem second nature to everybody," said Matson.
Setbacks, which have ultimately set him up for an opportunity of a lifetime, as he arrived at MSP Friday, ahead of his flight to Alaska.
He's off to hunt King Eiders on the Bering Sea.
"I've only dreamed about it," said Matson.
It's an opportunity being made possible through Minnesota-based non-profit Hometown Hero Outdoors.
"A lot of this has to do with mental health, being able to show these individuals that they can still go do these things and achieve these dreams even with what they've been through," said Chris Tetrault, Vice President of Hometown Hero Outdoors.
Matson was joined by dozens of officers and former colleagues for a surprise sendoff at MSP, fit for a hero from those who've been by his side since day one.
"He was on the driveway next to me making sure I didn't bleed out the night I got shot," said Mattison, after hugging the sergeant he referred to as his hero.
"We're just one big family and we're going to stay that way and it's always been that way and that's just the way we are so," said the sergeant.
Keeping Arik 'Matson Strong' as he faces what he calls the second greatest challenge of his life.
"The hunting takes place while we're in the ocean of the Bering Sea, so its pretty strenuous, the weather's always up in the air, what's going to happen that day, the winds high," explained Tetrault.
"Proud of you, thank you honey, today's your day, yup, have fun on the trip," said Matson's wife Megan, as she kissed him goodbye.
Matson's journey will begin on St. Paul Island.
He'll be joined by his uncle Paul and best friend Jeremy, as well as a production team currently working on a documentary of Arik's recovery.
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