Hometown Hero Outdoors gives opportunity of a lifetime for retired police officer who was shot in the head

Weight of the Crown by is licensed under YouTube
STILLWATER, MN - Hometown Hero Outdoors (HHO) has made it their mission to provide first responders, military service members, and veterans with a space where they can temporarily escape the stress and frustration that comes with civilian life. In this case, the space is the great outdoors.

The charitable non-profit provides opportunities for individuals to connect with others who have experienced a smiliar situation, begin the process of healing both mentally and physically through outdoor fun and relaxation, work on building strong and positive support systems that will benefit them as they continue to heal and move forward, and help with conquering challenges, overcoming obstacles and settle into a new life — civilian life.  

This organization utilizes a variety of outdoor adventures as a form of recreational therapy to help encourage those who are struggling with getting themselves up off the couch because they are facing traumas that have taken a piece of who they once were and replaced it with stress, frustration, anxiety, depression or any other type of monster that has reared its ugly head. 

The goal is to get these individuals out and onto the water, into the woods or even up a mountain with other like-minded people with similiar backgrounds. These experiences, as the organization states, will ultimately provide them with, "a strong commnunity of supporters who will listen with understanding ears, celebrate their achievements, and be there for them through thick and thin."

On their YouTube channel, HHO shared the trailer for a documentary, The Weight of the Crown, on now-retired Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson who was shot in the head while responding to a call back in January of 2020. The shooting left him with a traumatic brain injury.

The bullet tore through his skull and after a five-hour surgery, Matson awoke to a new reality. He said, "I couldn't even like sit up in bed without falling over." He said that he remembers he couldn't comprehend that he had been shot or why his left hand wouldn't work. 

Over the last three years, Matson has worked tirelessly to get him to where he is today. The setbacks he faced along the way ultimately set him up for an opportunity of a lifetime — one he has only dreamed of — and made entirely possible through HHO. 

Chris Tetrault, vice present of HHO, said, "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." 

Matson has flown to Alaska to hunt King Eiders on the Bering Sea. Back in January 2023, just before his journey was to begin, Matson said to KARE11, "I've only dreamed about it." In his surprise send off, Matson was surrounded with dozens of other officers and former colleagues who were by his side since day one. 

After hugging the sergeant he referred to as his hero, Matson said, "He was on the driveway next to me making sure I didn't bleed out the night I got shot." The sergeant added, "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."

In reflecting on his journey since being shot, Matson said, "A lot of hard work, its finally come to fruition though, for sure. Learning to walk again was really really challenging." Matson now faces the second greatest challenge of his life.

Tetrault said, "The hunting takes place while we're in the ocean of the Bering Sea, so it's pretty strenuous. The weather's always up in the air, what's going to happen that day, the winds high." Matson's journey, which according to HHO, will be available for streaming sometime in 2023, begins on St. Paul Island.

He is joined by his uncle Paul and best friend Jeremy as well as a production team who has been working on a documentary of Matson's recovery. Before taking his flight to Alaska for the opportunity of a lifetime, Matson's wife Megan, kissed him goodbye and said, "Proud of you, thank you honey, today's your day, yup, have fun on the trip."

The Weight of the Crown will be available January 6, 2024.
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