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Every morning for the past four years, Josh Cyganik has been waving to Leonard Bullock, a 75-year-old man who spends much of the day sitting on his porch.
But it wasn't until a few weeks ago that Cyganik, a Union Pacific Railroad track inspector who works across the street from the elderly man's home in Pendleton, Oregon, introduced himself — and shared some good news: Bullock was in for a surprise home makeover.
The surprise started last month, when Cyganik overheard two teenagers talking about Bullock's home. "Look at this crappy house — they just need to burn it down," Cyganik remembers the teens saying, within earshot of the homeowner.
After he went home that night, Cyganik, 35, says he couldn't get the look on Bullock's face out of his head.
"I saw him put his head down and it was clear he was upset," Cyganik told TODAY.com. "I thought about saying something to the boys, but sometimes anger is better left unsaid and I took a different course of action that ended up paying off more so than if I yelled at them."
Cyganik wanted to do something to help prevent anyone from hurting Bullock again, so he decided to gather volunteers to help paint his house.
When Cyganik went up to Bullock's porch and asked how he'd feel if he painted his house, the elderly man became choked up and said he'd love it, and appreciated the generosity.
Once he received permission from Bullock, Cyganik posted a Facebook status update looking for help with the project, and a friend of his who works at Tum-a-Lum Lumber store agreed to donate paint to the cause.
It wasn't long before the post spread like wildfire, and on the morning of July 18, hundreds of volunteers gathered to get to work.
"I couldn't believe the turnout," Cyganik said. "I stopped counting at 95 because I couldn't keep up, but it ended up being well over that."
Those who couldn't make it but still wanted to help sent water and food to the house. Some even made generous donations to Bullock and his wife, who both sat in lawn chairs and watched their house's transformation.
Volunteers hailed from all over, including those who drove from Texas, Washington and California, and people drove by throughout the day to check out the house. The Bullocks were so happy that they didn't want the day to end. At 11 p.m. that night, they were still on the front porch waving to cars as they passed by.
Cyganik and Bullock have continued their tradition of waving to each other every morning, only these days Bullock has a much happier expression on his face.
"I know that will probably be the last coat of paint he sees on the house, so for me to give him that and to be able to see him on the porch smiling with a beautiful backdrop made it all worth it," Cyganik said.