OCONOMOWOC (WITI) -- It's something no one expected. Not even "Torchy!" The community outreach from across southeastern Wisconsin continues as 95-year-old veteran Ralph "Torchy" Dames gets even more time in the spotlight. After FOX6 aired a story on Dames on Sunday, October 5th, a West Bend company stepped up to build Dames a wheelchair ramp. Now, we've learned Home Depot has made a big offer!
"It`s really amazing, you know, what happens!" Dames said.
Dames' neighbor and friend Dan Britten reached out to FOX6 News -- explaining he had applied for a program offered through Home Depot that does free home repairs for veterans.
Dames needs a wheelchair ramp -- and the temporary one Britten built isn't up to code.
"All I wanted was the ramp, you know," Dames said.
Dames waited for five months -- and nothing ever happened with Home Depot. After FOX6 aired a story on Sunday, "DiscountRamps.com" offered to build a ramp for Torchy.
"The outreach to him - at the age of 95 - is rather spectacular," Britten said.
A Home Depot representative says through a series of miscommunications, Dames' case simply fell through the cracks.
Now, Home Depot is offering to make additional repairs to Dames' home.
"We're terribly sorry for the confusion that occurred as we tried to plan a project to assist and honor Torchy. We're anxious to get this underway -- whether it's siding, or other work, and we've been touched to see similar enthusiasm from so many others in the community," the Home Depot representative said in a statement to FOX6 News.
The home is very special to Dames. His father built it, and he's lived in the home since he was two.
FOX6 News has learned students from Oconomowoc High School's "Construction Club" have volunteered to do interior work on the home.
"I think it`s a very worthwhile thing for the students to take part in - especially with him being a vet," Oconomowoc High School Teacher Steve Olson said.
Comfort, mobility and safety -- all made possible by those in the community whose love burns bright for Dames.
"It`s wonderful to see that happening!" Dames said.
The company installing Dames' wheelchair ramp says it should be delivered, assembled and put into place in just one week.
Meanwhile, about 40 students in Oconomowoc High School's "Construction Club" work after school hours as volunteers.
"Torchy" is a nickname Dames got when he was a speed skater. He says no one ever called him by his given name, Ralph, except his mother.