High Schoolers, Nonprofit Help Build Outdoor Wheelchair Ramp for Veteran With Terminal Illness

By Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.
October 14, 2021 Updated: October 18, 2021

An Ohio nonprofit has teamed up with local high schoolers to make life a little easier for a terminally-ill veteran by building a wheelchair ramp for his home, connecting him to the outside world.

On Sept. 27, Operation Ramp It Up and seniors from Badin High School in Hamilton made veteran Robert “Bob” Netherland’s day with the big reveal.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Operation Ramp It Up)

It all began when Hospice of Cincinnati called the nonprofit’s founders, Greg and Lisa Schneider; they knew they had to help Bob. Aged 89, the Army veteran—who served during the Cold War between 1952 and 1954—was given 6 months to live, 18 months ago.

“He is beating all odds,” Greg, 60, told The Epoch Times. “All of his glands and organs in his body are deteriorating, and his time is very limited.”

Meanwhile, the Badin High School seniors had been volunteering with Greg and his nonprofit for the last two years. They then had an idea of having a senior project revolve around giving back to the community and thus they decided to work together to build a ramp for Bob.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Operation Ramp It Up)

The nonprofit filmed Bob wheeling himself down his new ramp outside his Fairfield home for the very first time. The veteran, said Greg, was moved to tears.

“He could not believe that there was an organization out there that volunteered their time and donated their money to provide him with a free ramp,” said Greg. “The word he used to describe his pure joy was ‘freedom.’ He was so grateful to finally be provided with the ability to move freely in and out of his home, without depending on anyone else to assist him.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Operation Ramp It Up)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Operation Ramp It Up)

Senior Landyn Vidouruck told WLWT that they had to fix everything from scratch, but most of his comrades play baseball or football thus they’re used to working with each other. He said: [Veterans] give their life for us, so it’s just something small we can do to help them.”

The project marked the culmination of four years of community-service hours for the industrious high schoolers, and the seniors drove the project, raising $2,500 via a GoFundMe page and a sponsored out-of-uniform day at school to raise funds for the material of the ramp. However, it was more than they needed, enabling them to present Bob with a surprise $500 check.

Wishing to pay it forward, Bob promptly donated the money to United Service Organization (USO) to help other veterans in the community.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Operation Ramp It Up)

“I was so proud of them,” Greg told The Epoch Times of his hardworking seniors, adding that he and the ramp contractor allowed them to build the entire ramp under their supervision. “They had to use their leadership and teamwork skills. It was just so rewarding seeing these young men work together and accomplish such an amazing goal.”

After completing Bob’s ramp, the seniors visited local junior-high schools to share their project, and encourage future graduating classes to consider working with Greg’s nonprofit.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Operation Ramp It Up)

The Schneiders founded Operation Ramp It Up in their hometown of Cincinnati in 2014. While working hard at the nonprofit with his four adult children—all graduates of Badin High—Greg also retains the job at UPS where he has been employed for the last 42 years.

After being moved by the impact of his first ramp build in 2014, Greg formed his mission statement: to “provide freedom, independence, and accessibility to veterans and all others with mobility issues.”

Operation Ramp It Up is funded by sponsors, donors, or grants, and a crucial element of the team’s ongoing work is that they remove and recycle ramps when no longer needed. “Veterans love the idea of paying it forward by passing ramps on to someone else in need,” said Greg.

Watch the video:

(Courtesy of Operation Ramp It Up)

To date, the nonprofit has either installed or removed over 200 ramps in 35 states across the nation.

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Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan
Louise Bevan is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.