WASILLA — Marine Corps veteran Angelo Maddaloni came home to a pleasant surprise on Thursday, finding a brand new hot tub in his garage surrounded by people and red, white and blue balloons.
“It feels great. I was kind of surprised. I didn’t think it was going to be today,” Maddaloni said.
Maddaloni knew that he was getting the hot tub but he didn’t know when- thanks to his wife, Alicia’s careful planning with Arctic Home Living, the company that provided the gift.
“I was surprised that they would actually get it done during a weekday and then I got off work and it was here. That was really cool. I didn’t have to see the labor, it was just like ‘poof’ it’s here,” Maddaloni said.
Arctic Home Living was able to give Maddaloni this gift through a coalition of the Sundance company and Wish For Our Heroes, a national nonprofit that provides resources for active U.S military and veterans.
Maddaloni served 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, which included four tours in Iraq. He said that he chose that branch for the challenge. He retired as an E-7 Gunnery Sergeant, taking numerous injuries with him. Twenty years filled with combat, explosions and physical exertion left a lot of wear and tear. He’s suffered a traumatic brain injury, vision loss, cracked vertebrate, and four herniated discs. He uses a spinal cord stimulator to help him walk.
Maddaloni moved to the Valley with his family two years ago. The military gave him the opportunity to pick any state and settle his roots. He considered California but ultimately landed on Alaska, mostly because of the high volume of military and veterans per capita.
“Now I get to relax and do the things I want to do,” Maddaloni said.
Maddaloni was prepared for a fair amount of fellow military men and women but he didn’t expect to actually find so many Marines just in the Wasilla area. He joined a Marine Corps disabled sports team, travelling around and competing with them.
“Staying active is probably the biggest part of recovery when you get injured in the armed forces,” Maddaloni said.
Maddaloni said that he married Alicia on Memorial Day 20 years ago and they love adventure and travel, having kayaked all over the country. They now have three children and a new place to call home. They’ve enjoyed exploring Alaska and plan to go on a kayaking tour in Seward, hoping to paddle next to Orca whales and sea otters.
“We know we’re not leaving anytime soon,” Maddaloni said.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, he feels like this hot tub is a wonderful anniversary gift and the product of caring people from his community and afar.
“When all these people go out of their way for you, it’s a pretty amazing feeling,” Maddaloni said.
Several commercial vehicles and a water truck were parked at the top of Maddaloni’s driveway. Terry Donovan, general manager of Arctic Home Living, said they brought their own water to fill the new Sundance Spa hot tub.
“I’m sure he saw all our vehicles out there but he came down and he was just kind of wide eyed like ‘holy cow.’ I think he was a little shocked,” Donovan said.
Sundance is the sister company to Jacuzzi, the brand that’s name has become synonymous with the word hot tub just like Band-Aid with bandages. Two years ago, Sundance started offering hot tub dealers across the nation the chance to give away one free Sundance Spa to a local veteran if they sell 100 that year, according to Donovan.
“A lot of our customers are military ,so it’s near and dear to our heart,” Donovan said.
Last year, Arctic Home Living sold the 100 Sundance Spas and started accepting applications. Donovan said they received applications from across the state. Wish For Our Heroes helps screen the veterans with the dealers and determine recipients based on need.
“All veterans deserve something right? But this story, especially when you’re talking about massage from a hot tub. It’s on your back and your neck and that’s where he has issues, spinal issues so it seemed like the perfect fit honestly,” Donvan said.
Maddaloni was selected based on his various injuries accumulated during his service and became the first veteran to receive a free Sundance Spa from Arctic Home Living’s new annual tradition.
“So our goal is to sell another 100 spas this year and do it again,” Donovan said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com.