ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Veteran Gene Schaefer got a big surprise on Friday after a local contractor chose him to win a complete makeover of the exterior of his house.

Randy Palmeri & Son’s Contracting says they had over sixty entries into the annual veteran’s home makeover contest.

Shaefer and his wife, Sue, shed tears of joy and shock when they found out they were the winners.

“This is the house that we bought in ’73 and we’ve been here since. All three [of our] kids were raised [here],” Schaefer said.

Family, friends, and neighbors showed up for the surprise reveal.

“I see so many neighbors that we haven’t seen for years, and they showed up here,” Schaefer said.

Schaeffer won some money a few years ago and, instead of keeping it, he handed out $50 envelopes at Walmart during the Christmas season.

His oldest daughter, Kristien Frank, said he deserved a surprise of his own.

“I saw the ad [for the contest] on TV and I thought, ‘oh, we need to turn mom and dad in for that.’ Then, my brother called [and said] ‘hey, there’s this ad for Palmeri and Sons, and I was, like, ‘oh, I saw that!’ He goes, ‘let’s do it!’ and I’m, like, ‘ok!'” she said.

The Schaefers say they feel like there are others who are more deserving than they.

“I wish Randy would take it to some other veteran’s house,” Schafer said.

The Palmeri’s say the nomination letters they received prove otherwise.

“It was really kind of special because two out of the three letters – we really didn’t realize they were from the same family until we really got to look at them. Yeah, they were heartfelt but they were totally written in different text,” said Randy Palmeri.

“It’s overwhelming,” Schaefer said. “I don’t know what else to say to this. Thank you. Thank you to everybody.”

The Schaefer’s home, on MacArthur Drive, will begin renovations next month.

The Schaefers say they are excited to paint the exterior in the Green Bay Packers colors.