TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Cheryl Dupre didn’t know what to think when she walked up to her Tampa home Christmas Eve morning and saw a dozen people smiling, waiting and saying, “Merry Christmas.” The grandmother stood in awe as she realized she was getting a new roof free of charge.
“Oh my gosh,” Dupre said. “Oh thank you, God.”
For the past several years, Dupre’s grandkids entered the contest with Ryman Roofing and Construction asking the company to choose their grandmother. One of the previous submissions from 2014 reads, “Grandma always called us girls her ‘little chickadees,’ and continues to do so to this day! She taught me how to garden, how to sew, how to cook using my senses, and how to be a strong, independent woman.” Dupre didn’t win the roof that year.
But, 2015 brought new challenges. Dupre’s husband, Nelson, died just five days before the couple’s thirtieth anniversary. Before he got sick, he patched the roof as much as possible. In this year’s submission, Dupre’s grandkids wrote,”If you were to go door to door in the neighborhood they could all fill you with stories of their love and caring for everyone around them.”
That’s exactly what Ryman Roofing, a family business, did. Every year before they give away a new roof, they narrow down the more than 100 entries and then check in with neighbors just to make sure the recipient is deserving.
Dupre couldn’t be a better candidate. Just after 10 in the morning Thursday, the Ryman clan surprised her with the news. “Her insurance was going to get canceled if she didn’t get a new roof so we came at the perfect time,” Aaron Camacho, with Ryman Construction, said. “I have chills. We’re a close family and it’s nice to see someone else smile. It brings tears to my eyes.”
Dupre’s daughter’s watched in person as their mother stood in shock, and Dupre’s granddaughters got to watch through skype.
“It’s the best thing ever,” daughter Darlene Goodrich said. “We’ve tried everything we could all along and then for this to happen, it’s amazing.”
Camacho estimates the roof, which is free for Dupre, would normally cost $8,500 to $10,000. Dupre’s roof will be Ryman’s first project in January.
“My neighbors used to call my husband the angel because he would fix everything,” Dupre said. “I’m sure he’s even part of this now, saying, ‘God, you have to fix this.’ It’s just such a blessing people don’t even know. It’s a big blessing.”