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Act of kindness: Napoleon contractor builds family wheelchair ramp for free

Despite having a waitlist that's months long, Jerry Tonjes dropped everything to build a wheelchair ramp for a man who had knee replacement surgery.

NAPOLEON, Ohio — There are people who do good deeds every day in our community. Jerry Tonjes, a contractor in Napoleon who owns JT's Building and Construction, is one of those people.

He said is not one for the limelight, but one of Tonjes' recent customers refused to let his work get overshadowed.

Jamie Wirick's dad had knee replacement surgery last month and is currently using a wheelchair. It's his second knee replacement and the recovery is not going as quickly as expected.

The Wiricks were told they needed a ramp for his house in just a matter of days.

"I called about 50 contractors and three of them got back to me. One of which was Jerry," Jamie said.

Tonjes got right to work. He went to their home on Friday to get measurements. Then he got the materials and built the ramp in just a few hours on Tuesday.

When the Wiricks tried to pay him for his time and work, he declined.

"There was no cost," Tonjes said. "It came to the point where it was minimal dollars. It was just a good gesture that I just felt I had to do for her."

It was a shock for the family, especially when other contractors told them it would take weeks and cost them thousands of dollars.

"I felt like my thank you's were not enough for him because he really, really helped our family in such dire need and such a short time frame," Jamie said.

Tonjes said likes to give back but also likes to stay out of the spotlight.

There's a reason for his generosity, too. He can relate to the stress the Wiricks are dealing with.

"I've been going through the same thing similar with my fiance," Tonjes said. "She had multiple myeloma cancer, so we were trying to give back to the community. She's doing well."

Business is good for JT's, as Tonjes said he's booked for the next few months.

He believes he was meant to cross paths with the Wiricks.

"I've done multiple ramps for people but it's just sort of hit me," Tonjes said. "I can do something good for a change because we don't have a lot of good in the world right now."

Jamie's husband, James Wirick, agreed.

"It's just one man helping another man in need," James said. We need a lot more of that in this world. It's a cold, cruel world and there's a lot of negativity out there."

Tonjes hopes his act of kindness can inspire others to bring a similar light into other people's lives.

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