PORT RICHEY — Walter and June Savoldy have seen some hard times.
Neither can walk. He has an amputated leg from circulatory problems. She suffers from nerve damage from surgery a decade ago to remove a tumor from her spine.
And while the retired couple continue to fight for their health, one great fear has long weighed on their minds: the elements penetrating the decaying roof on their Port Richey home.
Walter, who used to work at a Scotty's hardware store, has been on disability since doctors amputated his left leg in 1997. June, a stay-at-home mother who raised the couple's four children, has never had health insurance or disability income. So roof repairs needed for years went undone. They just didn't have the money.
On the ceiling of their home, on El Camino Paloma Street, watermarks had already started to appear.
"I have always pictured us sitting in our living room with umbrellas one day as the rain dropped on us," said Walter, 65. "There's no doubt in my mind that day was coming."
On Tuesday, however, the Savoldys talked about such fears as a thing of the past.
Crews from Ryman Roofing Inc., a division of Ryman Construction Inc. of Zephyrhills, spent the day stripping out the Savoldys' dilapidated roof and replacing it, good as new — at no cost to the couple.
"I'm still in a daze. I can't believe God blessed us like this," said June, 64.
The Savoldys won a Ryman Roofing contest providing free repairs to the family most in need.
Ryman sales manager Christian Ryman said the company called for contestants to apply by e-mail or on Facebook.
Ryman received entries from about 50 contestants all over the Tampa Bay area, and the Savoldys' struggles jumped out as the winner.
An inspection of the Savoldys' roof revealed missing shingles, damaged vents and areas in danger of breaking through.
"We were looking to do this for a family that truly was in need," Ryman said. "They are both disabled and really need this."
And in a way, the company needed this project, too. The sour economy and housing collapse has hurt the roofing industry. Ryman wanted to use the downtime to help someone in need, and the company plans to hold another contest next holiday season.
"We have been around for 30 years in this area, so we have tremendous support from the community which kept us going," Ryman said. "So we wanted to give something back."
Winning the new roof proved to be the end of a process full of surprises, as the Savoldys did not know they had even been entered into the contest.
Their daughter, Laura Rallo, entered her parents, who for years had patched the roof and hoped for the best. She considered the contest a long shot.
"Of course, when you enter into something like this you never expect anything," she said. "So I was excited."
When Ryman announced in January that the Savoldys were the winners, the two were overcome with emotion.
"I cried my eyes out," Walter said. "I just said thank God. It was very emotional, yeah."
He still gets choked up thinking about his daughter entering the contest for the free roof.
"Without her," Walter said, "we wouldn't …"
His voice trailed off as he fought back tears.
He and June will celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary next month. And it's now sure to be dry.