MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Two years ago, a Mississippi firefighter's journey touched the heart of millions. Now, his community stepped up to surprise the firefighter.
In 2001, a ceiling collapsed on Senatobia firefighter Patrick Hardison as he searched a burning home for a woman trapped inside. The ceiling knocked Hardison's helmet off, and fire got into his suit.
"I can see everything melting on me, so I just had to hold my breath and throw everything off me just so I can get to a window," Hardison recalled.
Doctors put him in a coma to save his life. When he awoke, his face consisted of two pin holes for eyes and an opening as wide as a straw for a mouth.
After several unsuccessful surgeries, doctors at New York University found a solution.
Hardison then underwent the most extensive face transplant surgery ever completed.
He came home and looked upon his children and wife with a new face and a new opportunity at life.
"For 14 years, I didn't have that (eyebrows, eyelids, etc.). Like I said, I thought it was one of the things I thought I never would have again," Hardison said. "I can remember that night praying, asking some kind of miracle where I can get close to normal as possible, and this is where we're at today."
As life got back to normal, Hardison's friends decided it was time to give him another shock.
Over the weekend, they stole Hardison's truck.
"I stole it about 1 in the morning Sunday or Monday morning, And I got it over to my house. I live close to him. Took it all apart, got on YouTube. Learned how to disable the OnStar," Clyde Bynum said.
For about 24 hours, Hardison thought he was the victim of a crime.
Then, Tuesday morning a Tate County deputy told Hardison they'd found his "stolen" truck.
The deputy drove Hardison to Spyder-Off Road and Performance shop. There, he saw his truck--revamped and improved!
The crew at Spyder-Off Road and Performance worked nearly around the clock to pull off the big reveal. Hardison's truck is now equipped with a lift kit, upgraded bumper, new wheels, and tires.
To watch a timelapse of the work done to Hardison's truck, click on the video below:
All the parts and time to complete the upgrades were donated.
"We just felt like you deserved something a little extra for what you've been through a lot," Bynum said.