James Roth watches as volunteers from Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity build a wheelchair ramp in his garage Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald
Habitat for Humanity, Utah County
The Home Depot partnered with Habitat for Humanity on Thursday in launching the nonprofit's new program in Utah County.
"Last year we expanded our mission to neighborhood revitalization and critical home repair," said Nancy Mickiewicz from Habitat for Humanity in Utah County. "This is our opportunity to partner with Home Depot and help a veteran, which we are just honored to do."
Northern Utah County resident Jim Roth was treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma as a young man. The radiation and chemotherapy gave him another 20-year lease on life.
The cancer went into recession, but the radiation left lasting side effects of hardening arteries and nerve damage that remained dormant until 2010. Daily, he suffers from chronic, agonizing sharp pain and burning sensations in his lower spine, hips and legs.
Largely wheelchair bound -- his legs are in danger of atrophying from poor circulation -- he needed a way to get into and out of his house.
"The doctor told me that within the next five years I will lose a leg," Roth said. "I don't think I'd be alive today if I hadn't gotten treatment. I was lucky to catch it early."
He served 12 years in the military in infantry. His commander is the one who nagged him to get treatment.
"I was in denial," Roth said. "The survival rate for me would have dropped down to zero if it wasn't for the military."
At about 9 a.m. Thursday, the fleet of vans and cars pulled up to his home and men unloaded the wood and other items to construct an entry ramp in the garage of the home.
The project was the first critical home repair sponsored by Habitat for Humanity in Utah County. The volunteers completed the ramp and also installed a water softener and water filter for Roth's health, since he has just one kidney left.
Roth's father-in-law, Cliff Ewell, works at The Home Depot and has known about his son-in-law's need for about a year. His company provided a $5,000 grant for the project.
"Excited, I'm excited about it," Ewell said. "He's a good kid. I just love him to death."