NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — It was an exciting afternoon as 81-year-old Gerald Tidd was surprised at his North Tonawanda home as the winner of a Veteran’s Day free deck giveaway.

Gerald’s daughter, Kathy Phinney, said it was a total shock her father won the free deck giveaway, but believes it was well-deserved. She said the deck comes at a perfect time because her fiercely independent father now needs a wheelchair to get around.

“He is constantly donating and spreading the word and trying to collect things for other people, not himself,” Phinney said. “And I thought this is time for him to get something back.”

The 81-year-old has a love of the outdoors and helping others.

He’s packed his SUV with donated items he’s collected for other vets.

“I feel great, I know I’ve done something and my friends have done something to make the lives of our veterans better,” said Tidd.

The current deck on the back of his home is rotted and not accessible for him to enjoy, so this major upgrade is a very welcome addition.

“I can go outside at night or during the day and sit there and watch the birds or talk to my neighbors. Something like that,” Tidd added. “It gets me out there where I can enjoy life.”

Pat Williams, the owner of Decked Out WNY, said it’s the least he can do.

“Hearing Gerald and his story and what he still continues to do, it’s incredibly inspiring and we can only hope to return such a small fraction of what he’s given other people,” Williams said.

The contest received around 500 entries and News 4 was told construction on the new deck will begin in early spring. LENCO Lumber is helping Gerald collect winter clothing and supplies for veterans at all of their locations.

Decked Out WNY, LENCO Lumber and Fiberon partnered for this Veteran’s Day free deck giveaway.

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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.