By Charles Collier, The Denmark News

Living in Wisconsin has plenty of perks, but they can become easy to forget about come winter. Slippery roads, snow shoveling, and sub-zero temperatures can make the Frozen Tundra a sometimes unbearable landscape. For those without adequate heating in their homes, there can be literally no escape from Jack Frost’s icy tendrils.

Heating improvements can easily be put off, as equipment and labor charges can skirt between $5,000 and $6,000. For those with lower incomes or prevailing financial obligations, padding on a few extra layers is the only frugal choice.

This is why since 2010 Lennox has sponsored the Heat U.P. Wisconsin campaign, donating up to 100 furnaces to local HVAC contractors to install into a lucky neighbor’s home throughout Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Recipients are first nominated by friends and community members before being selected by Lennox.

The program offers local Lennox retailers, who donate the time and installation equipment, a chance to give back to the communities that support them. Sparky Hermans of Hermans Heating and Air Conditioning said that installation times vary from house to house, but that with the Heat U.P. Wisconsin donations he makes an event out of it.

“I always bring my family and we kind of make a day out of it; get donuts, have a meal. It’s a good time,” Hermans said.

Ron Kudick, this year’s Denmark recipient, will begin enjoying his brand new furnace on Saturday afternoon, when all the donations across both states will be installed. Kudick, a well-respected member of the Denmark community, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999 and has battled the disease since. Due to his illness, he has not been able to work full-time as medical bills have piled up.

Early last spring Ron’s cancer spread to his bones, increasing his pain and forcing him to give up his part-time job while his oncology team recommended he search for a second treatment opinion. Kudick’s daughter Beth says in her nomination letter, “All this has left a huge financial burden on Ron and his wife. The opportunity to upgrade their aging furnace would alieve some of the stress he faces.”