As a resident of Liberty Township, Greg Schneider has had a great career and raised a great family alongside his wife, Lisa. Together, they realized that giving back to the community was a high priority. Greg dove into working with more than 30 nonprofits before he found his calling in the form of a program he now calls Operation Ramp It Up.
“I was asked to build a ramp with my UPS employees in Bond Hill in Cincinnati for the spouse of a deceased veteran,” explains Greg. “I went in and introduced myself and she started crying because she couldn’t get in and out of her house. Within two hours, our team built an aluminum wheelchair ramp, and she cried with joy about how we’d changed her life.”
Greg saw the opportunity to continue building ramps and was so taken with the major change a ramp could create that he began getting involved with more projects: nearly always the ramp was helping someone who was a veteran or someone who was experiencing a debilitating illness.
“Some nonprofits couldn’t put a ramp in if you made more than a certain amount of money a year, so I started putting ramps up for veterans who couldn’t leave their homes,” says Greg.
For years, he coordinated ramp donations and installations as part of working with the VFW. When Lisa received a breast cancer diagnosis, which she is still fighting today, they decided to create their own, separate nonprofit, which the whole family contributes to, including their adult children.
“We’ve installed 125 ramps in 34 states,” he says. “It’s so exciting and rewarding to see how they change lives.”
One interesting element of the program is ramp recycling: aluminum ramps provide a lot of utility but eventually, many veterans either move into housing that doesn’t require a ramp or pass away. Many families choose to donate their ramp back to Operation Ramp It Up so that it can be reinstalled safely for a different veteran’s use.
“A new aluminum ramp that is 32 feet long can cost $7,000 to $10,000,” says Greg. “Through recycling ramps, I try to keep the costs of every installation at $5,000 per ramp, which is what I tend to quote as the cost for a sponsorship.”
These days, many of the ramp sponsorships come from corporations, including a few sponsors who have chosen to work with Operation Ramp it Up in various states over time. In gratitude, the Schnieders continue to be very supportive of the local community, from the Lakota Tomahawk Cheerleaders to participation in the Shamrock Shuffle.
Anyone who donates a ramp for one veteran or another worthy individual who needs the help has a double, triple or further impact. Greg talks of a patient who had a ramp installed but who was so taken by the mission of the organization that he donated a ramp himself, which went on to be recycled as well.
“Everyone has a unique story: a Pearl Harbor survivor from World War II, or Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, or Iraq, or someone who has ALS or cancer,” says Greg. “I make so many friends, and I make a database so I can continue to be in contact with them.”
“Operation Ramp it Up is all about teamwork, everywhere,” he adds. “I just organize it and the volunteers make it happen.”
U.S. Army Veteran Robert Netherland of Fairfield is a recent recipient of a ramp through Operation Ramp it Up and a team of student volunteers from Badin High School. The teens earned community service hours by making a life-changing difference for Robert, a home hospice patient.
“I am very grateful,” Robert says. “It means a lot to be able to come and go from my house.”
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Want to donate to a ramp project or get a group together to install one? Visit OperationRampItUp.com to connect with Greg and learn more.