Perry Township veteran wins Operation Kitchen Makeover

PERRY TOWNSHIP, OH (WOIO) - This week, Cleveland 19 News along with Kitchen Saver and the Northeast Ohio Foundation for Patriotism surprised the winner of Operation Kitchen Makeover.

Last month, viewers were asked to nominate an active service member or veteran deserving of a kitchen remodel.

Blaire Budzicki won the contest after her husband, George, submitted a nomination.

Blaire was stunned when Cleveland 19 knocked on her door to announce she had won. Soon, her kitchen will receive a $20,000 makeover courtesy of Kitchen Saver. New cabinets, appliances and other upgrades are a part of the package.

We asked Blaire what she was looking forward to most.

"New counter-tops (and) a stove that's not stained by the previous homeowners," Blaire said. "I'm looking forward to white cupboards, because I always loved white cupboards."

Redoing the kitchen has been on the couple's to do list for a while. They have two daughters ages 8 and 6.

"We actually just had somebody here two days ago telling us how much it would be to redo the kitchen, and we had sticker shock," Blaire said.

George was also shocked when he found out his wife won. His nomination talked about her nearly five years in the United States Army.

"She brought a lot of baggage with her after 9/11, and after her service and the way she just presents herself  is amazing," George said. "She has very positive things to tell people about the military and she deserves it (new kitchen)."

Blaire joined the military shortly after graduating from high school. Her deployment happened a few weeks into her freshman year at The Ohio State University.

"The one thing that's stuck with me is integrity. It's very important to have integrity in your whole life all the time," Blaire said.

A lot of her time was spent working at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as an Army Military Police. Her tours included work in Afghanistan and Turkey. George said his wife battles post traumatic stress disorder. He said cooking and baking with their daughters is one way she's able to relax.

Blair said the kitchen is the hub of the home.

"I can tomatoes in here, my girlfriends are in here- we drink wine and laugh... we do homework in here," she said.

Blaire has promised to invite us back to see the finished product. The plan is to have the work finished in early November.

"This truly is a blessing and I can't thank you enough- and my husband," Blaire said.

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