This was a great project that came to life thanks to the generous people at Home Depot and our wish coordinator, Ann Mayer. We would like to thank Larry Diggs for nearly 26 years of service, and we are so glad that Willie can now enjoy the back yard.
Wish For Our Heroes, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for active military members, made a dream come true for Larry Diggs and his family.
Diggs’ disabled son, Willie, was not able to spend time in the backyard of their Hemet home because it wasn’t accessible to his wheelchair.
Larry Diggs’ wife, Shelia, has been active in the San Jacinto Valley during the nine years the family has lived there. She offers free black light puppet shows for children through her Fantastic Dream Team. She also was the winner of 2012’s Voice of the Valley singing competition.
Ann Mayer, wish coordinator for the Indiana-based foundation, said every wish is screened and submitted to a committee for review.
“We have granted 1,378 wishes since we started about four years ago,” she said.
Ninety-five 95 cents of each donated dollar goes to the cause, Mayer said.
She partnered with The Home Depot’s volunteerism arm, Team Depot, to complete the wish. Lonnie Zingg, assistant manager at the Hemet store, said each store takes on a quarterly community project. A sign-up sheet is posted and all associates are encouraged to get involved.
“I’ve been with (The Home Depot) for 11 years and I’ve seen thousands of hours and resources donated to our communities,” said Zingg, an Army veteran.
Every week the store provides donations to nonprofit organizations and local schools through discounts and volunteer hours, he said.
Zingg said the original project for the Diggs family consisted of a shed to replace a canopy that had been set up to house Willie’s equipment and supplies. The 18-year-old was born with spastic cerebral palsy and depends on a wheelchair for mobility.
“We ended up doing the whole backyard,” Zingg said. “Being retired military, I know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck, and some struggle more than others and they don’t have the resources to do things themselves.”
Pavers were placed along the perimeter of the house’s foundation and sod was laid down.
“The yard was all gravel and dirt. I couldn’t roll his chair over it,” Shelia Diggs said. “Now this will allow me to roll him across to the covered patio where his massage table and Jacuzzi will be set up.”
She still is seeking funds to purchase the corrugated fiberglass panels needed to cover the rear patio’s wood slatted roof to provide privacy and protection.
“This is what I always wanted for him,” she said. “He will sleep better, he will do better.”
Larry Diggs said it is a huge relief and tremendous blessing to have this wish granted. He has served 25½ years in the Navy and has been deployed seven times.
“Willie was born four and a half months early and weighed one pound and 5 ounces,” said Shelia Diggs, who also has two daughters. “He could fit into my hand he was so small. But he survived and even though there is a lot of work to do, he’s still with us.”
Visit www.wishforourheroes.org and www.homedepotfoundation.org for more information.
Diane A. Rhodes is a Press-Enterprise correspondent. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.