GILCREST, Colo. — In a span of two months, Vietnam veteran Dave Rodriguez’s life has changed thanks to the generosity of local businesses and Denver7 viewers.
“It feels wonderful,” he said.
He sustained injuries in Vietnam 50 years ago, when he was just 18. He now has trouble walking, near-constant pain, arthritis, and a variety of other health issues. He couldn’t step into his own bathtub to take a shower, and could barely step outside his home because of mobility issues.
“Just a helping hand, that’s all I’m asking for to get myself back on my feet,” he said through tears.
“This is something we want to donate to you guys for what you’ve done. Service of your country,” Miller told Rodriguez on June 19.
Now, that shower is complete.
“It’s one of the best things that's ever happened. Now I can get in the shower without having to fight to get in,” Rodriguez said.
Another nonprofit also heard the vet’s story and stepped up to help him in a different way. The Home Builders Foundation stepped in to build a patio with a wheelchair- and walker-accessible ramp in front of his Gilcrest home.
“It’s all free of charge to them and it’s a great thing to do,” said Chris Beasley of the Foundation said.
“Instead of sitting in this chair all day I can sit out there, read my newspaper, and watch my grandson out there playing,” Rodriguez said.
But there was still an issue. Given his health, he was unable to maintain his lawn. He had even received warnings from the town in the past. That’s where Denver7 viewers came in to help.
Following the first story of Rodriguez’s struggle, viewers stepped up to donate to Contact7 Gives. Donations were enough to pay for lawn care for the veteran and his family for the next year and a half.
“Oh thank you,” Rodriguez said through tears when Denver7 surprised him with the news.
Northern Colorado lawn care company Lawn Police Lawn Care stepped in to complete the lawn care services at cost.
“Anytime we can give back to the community that’s given us so much, especially served our country and given us a better place to live and to raise our kids and to have a local business, we’re more than happy to give back to that,” Lawn Police owner Jared Weeks said.
Weeks brought a crew out to mow, trim, and cut weeds. He added that making a difference in this veteran’s life “gave me goosebumps.”
“I say thank you. Thanks to everybody that is helping me out. It means a lot,” Rodriguez said.
The veteran now has a walk-in shower, a wheelchair and walker-accessible porch and ramp, and lawn service for the foreseeable future.
“It’s been a long road getting here and now you guys are doing all this for me. It means the world to me,” Rodriguez said, with tears in his eyes. “I couldn’t ask for more. I appreciate it and I thank God for you guys.”