When Tyler Wilson and his family moved to northwest Arvada earlier this year, the Army veteran — who was paralyzed in Afghanistan in 2005 — he thought it would take years to save up enough money …
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When Tyler Wilson and his family moved to northwest Arvada earlier this year, the Army veteran — who was paralyzed in Afghanistan in 2005 — he thought it would take years to save up enough money to modify his home to be accessible for him. Fortunately for the Wilsons, the Home Depot Foundation and partners Semper Fi & America's Fund
From Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, over 100 volunteers worked to replace the Wilson's dilapidated fence and make the family's backyard more accessible by installing concrete ramps and durable window well covers. As an added bonus, the Foundation also donated a playground for the Wilson's kids, aged two and four.
“It was pretty amazing to get that news that it wasn't going to take years to play with my kids out here,” said Wilson.
Mandy Fritchell, a local Home Depot Store Manager who works on the Foundation's initiatives said that the Semper Fi Fund reached out and shared Wilson's story. When Fritchell received the letter from Semper Fi, she shared it with the Home Depot community and was met with an outpouring of support.
“We got a heartfelt letter from Semper Fi so then we got our stores involved. We put it out to all our stores and all our third parties, anyone we have in our community can come volunteer,” said Fritchell. “We had a huge turnout. Word got out to people beyond our (Home Depot) community. “
Fritchell said the project was initially slated to just improve the fence, but after doing a walkthrough with Wilson, the Foundation decided to broaden the range of the renovations.
“After we got a whole scope of it, we decided to go bigger, Fritchell said. "We had money left over from the grant we got, so we added the playground.”
Wilson said the additional improvements will drastically improve his quality of life.
“Big thing was wanting to get the fencing done. It was falling down in a lot places. With my service dog and all that stuff, I wanted to have a place for him to be off duty and be able to run without wandering outside the property,” said Wilson, “and same with the kids — I have a two and a four-year-old. They keep you on your toes enough as it is.
“It's a place where I can feel confident that they're safe and I don't have to worry about them running into the street or something like that,” Wilson continued.
June Cartmill, a case manager at the Semper Fi Fund, said she has been working with Wilson for years and saw the need for improvements in his new home.
“When we saw that he had these needs, we were able to try and connect (the Wilson's) and partner with Home Depot to make the yard more accessible and enjoyable,” said Cartmill. “Tyler and (wife) Chrystal are part of the Semper Fi family. When we see situations like this, we step in and try to do something. Our goal is to be here and let them know that we're here.”
As the project wrapped up the day before Veterans Day Wilson said the work volunteers had done exceeded his wildest expectations.
“It's pretty amazing overall, just the generosity of everyone involved taking time out of their day,” said Wilson. “I'm not one who likes asking for help, and it's just a very humbling and surreal experience to see everyone come out and do all this work so we can have an infinite amount of memories with these boys back here in our forever home.”
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