Green Bay (WBAY) -- The 7th annual Heat UP Wisconsin program kicks off again this weekend – with 85 free furnace installations across the state of Wisconsin.
“It feels very important. I feel very lucky,” says Robert “Big Bob” Valenta, the Green Bay recipient of a free furnace.
“Bob lost his wife a few years ago to cancer. And Bob was a client of ours, and we knew his furnace was failing,” says Paula Lecker, a Heat UP Wisconsin board member and Ultimate Air office manager. “He's just been dealing with some bills since his wife had left, and we knew financially he would be a good fit for the program.”
That’s why a friend nominated him for the free furnace this year, as part of the Heat UP Wisconsin program.
“I think it was important to nominate him, and he’s a good guy,” says Pam Vanderkinter, who put Valenta’s name in the nomination pool. “He does a lot for other people.”
Out of all the submissions put in, board members say Valenta stood out the most.
“Bob is an amazing person,” Lecker says. “He's really big hearted, does a lot with other people. He's just so genuine and just a good person, we knew this was going to be a really good fit for him.”
The program first started back in 2010, only serving those in need in Wisconsin. Now, it’s grown to eight states and four Canadian Provinces.
On Saturday, a team from Ultimate Air in Luxemburg delivered and installed Valenta’s furnace.
“Most of the time the people that we do help out are afraid to ask. And them are the people that need it most,” says Jeff Blemke, owner of Ultimate Air.
“All of us, the whole team, we kind of get teary eyed,” says Lecker. “It’s a neat event, we love it.”
For Valenta – this gift means everything.
“It’s more of a reliability,” Valenta says. “Where my furnace before, I never knew if it was going to quit or if it wasn't going to run. There was a lot of issues with it in the last couple years.”
Now Valenta can be sure his home will be heated and warm this winter.