SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Alan Root is turning 96 this year. A Marine Corps veteran wounded in World War II, he's lost most of his mobility preventing him from doing some of his favorite activities, which are mainly outdoors.
So just in time for spring, the Western Mass News and Big Y Surprise Squad is reaching out to help Root get in and out of his home
Root has stolen the hearts of his family, friends, and neighbors with his contagious energy and smile that lights up an entire room
"You got to think positive and I'm going to make it over the 100," Root said.
The two-time Purple Heart recipient and World War II veteran has seen a lot in his lifetime. Many memories are still incredibly painful more than 75 years later
"Bullets were shooting all around us. I'll never forget it. I lost a lot of good friends yeah...war is awful, but you got to do what's right," Root explained.
Wounded in both the battle of Guam and Bougainville, Root is reliant on his wheelchair and hasn't been able to go outside on his own without assistance.
However, the Surprise Squad changed that.
"We found a way to add a little bit to a ramp, so it goes and comes back up and get you all the way in the door with your walker," said Brian Jewett with Amramp of Western Mass. and Vermont, adding "He's got a nice very serviceable ramp here, but that one step makes it unusable."
Jewett and Amramp will put in two platforms next to each other, so Root can come out, make the turn, and then finish another three feet of ramp up into the doorway.
Root's nomination came from his neighbor, Shirleen Wojciechowski, who has seen him get in several accidents trying to get out the house the last few years.
"He's been such a good neighbor. I just want him to be safe and he loves the outside," Wojciechowski explained.
With the help of his neighbors, family, Amramp, and the Surprise Squad, Root now has an addition to his old wheelchair ramp that makes it usable
"I just moved in with him a little over a month ago. He's doing better and better. We're hoping to get him outside soon," said Root's grandson Kellen McCaffrey.
"[McCaffrey: Are you grateful for them coming? What they're going to do for you?] Oh God, yeah. I'm going to see the stars again," Root said.
With spring now in full swing, Root will be able to do just that
"You know how to make a guy cry. I appreciate everything you guys do," Root said.
If you know someone that deserves a surprise, you can nominate them by sending an email to email@example.com.