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‘Godsend’ neighbor helps man regain his sight, independence

Posted at 3:22 PM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 17:21:35-04

BELMONT, Mich.,-- They were two residents in the same retirement community for years without even knowing it. Now, Frank Passmore and Dawn Sagryn are not only neighbors, but friends for life.

"I wish there were more people like her," Passmore told FOX 17 News.

The pair met last fall when Passmore moved to the first floor of River Grove, just a few doors down from Sagryn.

"Just got to chit chatting," explained Sagryn. "He said that he had the beginnings of cataracts, and he just wasn't comfortable driving."

Sagryn, who had undergone cataract surgery herself, began encouraging Passmore to consider the procedure. The 76-year-old veteran was apprehensive.

"I hate doctors, I guess I'm a typical man," he said. "It got to the point where I picked up a newspaper and I couldn't read it."

Passmore finally made the decision to go ahead with the surgery, but there was still a problem: he had already turned in his driver's license and car when he began losing his sight, and didn't have a way to get to and from the doctor's office.

Sagryn came to the rescue.

"I said I will take you. I have a car, I don't have anything to do, it's not that bad, and I'll take you, and stay with you while they do it," she said.

After several appointments, and a rigorous treatment schedule of eye drops 4 times a day, Passmore regained his vision.

"The only thing I can compare it to is a baby opening its' eyes. This was a brand new world," he told FOX 17 News. "I didn't realize how bad my eyes were."

"It made me feel so good that he basically got to live again," Sagryn said. "He could see. He couldn't believe the difference in colors."

Passmore soon decided he'd like to get his car and license back too. Sagryn was able to once again come to the rescue, connecting Passmore with a friend who knew a lot about cars. Once Passmore had the vehicle, she stayed by his side, helping him get his license and car insurance back.

"And the nicest part about it is, [Dawn] didn't make you feel like you were imposing...It just went on and on. Finally, I thought this lady is Mother Theresa, and she doesn't even know it," said Passmore.

Sagryn, who also shuttles around other residents in the retirement community and foster kids in West Michigan, shrugs off the praise, saying that it gives her "something to do".

"It's just rewarding to see them feel better and be out and about. Otherwise, what would I do? I don't need to sit here and just do nothing."

The two have formed a special bond that continues, despite the fact that their car rides together are a lot less frequent.

"I lost out on taking him to the grocery store and things like that," said Sagryn. "But, he's on his own. He's got his freedom back, his independence. And when you get to be our age, it's kind of nice to be independent."

Passmore didn't know how to thank Sagryn for all she did for him, calling his neighbor a "godsend". He decided to nominate her for FOX 17 Pay it Forward Person of the Month.

"She is a very low key lady, she doesn't like someone to pat her on the back," said Passmore. "Well sometimes, you gotta have someone pat you on the back, because she deserves it. They don't make people like that anymore."

FOX 17 agrees Sagryn is deserving of the recognition. As the September Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Sagryn will receive a $500 dollar check, courtesy of Independent Bank.

Know someone who FOX 17 should feature as our next Pay it Forward Person of the Month?  Nominate them here.

Meet William Stein, our August Pay it Forward Person of the Month.