GLENDALE, AZ — A Glendale Marine Corps veteran was gifted with a brand-new air-conditioning unit for her service to country and community.
Forest Anderson Plumbing and Air Conditioning surprised Cheryl Reuss on Wednesday to inform her that she is this year's winner.
Reuss was overcome with emotion after answering the door and getting the news.
"I'm just so excited! Oh my god, I'm going to cry, and I'm not a crier!" Reuss said.
This is the seventh year Forest Anderson has honored a veteran with a new AC.
Cheryl's friends and family nominated her and highlighted why she was so deserving.
She is one of 10 sisters growing up and came from a family of modest means.
Cheryl says she didn't have a real plan after high school and decided to join the military.
"Having gone into the military was a big life changer for me," she said.
Cheryl served in the Marines Corps from 1989 to 1993, reaching the rank of Corporal.
"It allowed me to grow up and form a bond with a group of men and women from all different backgrounds." "It taught me to be more responsible and to just understand how life works. It helped me be more confident in everything I do," she said.
After serving, Reuss earned her business degree, but then decided to work with young people, and became a classroom teacher for 10 years. Reuss went back to school in 2012 and earned her MBA.
Reuss now volunteers for several organizations, including the Arizona Roadrunners, that is part of the Women Marines Association.
"I feel like you've gotta give back," she said.
But Reuss says raising her 10-year-old granddaughter, Colleen, is what means the most to her. Colleen is currently living with her in the Glendale house along with Reuss' mother.
She says it's for them that she really needs the new air conditioning unit.
"My air-conditioning is about 17 or 18 years old, and it's getting down to its last leg," she said. "I don't want to be sitting here in 120° weather and my house getting hotter and hotter.
After the announcement, the Forest Anderson team took to Chery's roof to take measurements for her new AC.
Company President, Audrey Monell, says there's no one more deserving than Cheryl.
"Cheryl is absolutely amazing," Monell said. "If there were more people like her in this world, we would probably have world peace."
"She's a role model, she's a mentor to all young women in the world," Monell said.
Monell's kind words made the Marine veteran once again, emotional.
"This was a huge and wonderful surprise," she Reuss said. "Yes, I'm just so beside myself," she said.