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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Savannah
I, along with hundreds of Savannahians, gathered together on Abercorn Street to chant together, "Move That Bus!" The city of Savannah will remember for years to come when ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition graced the Savannah community and gave a gift like no other to one of our very own families. Lives are changed through the efforts of this television show cast and crew regularly, but how often does Ty Pennington show up in Savannah, Georgia. I am here to let you in on how amazing the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team, cast, crew, and the Savannah community truly are.
On November 12th, the Simpson family was announced as the family that would be given a new home by the team of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The Simpson family is a very inspirational family of five. Jim and Carmen Simpson are blessed with three beautiful children, Isaac (8), Katelyn (4), and Zoe (2).
There are multiple reasons that Extreme Makeover chose the Simpson family, but none compare to the inspirational, miracle of their son Zoe. Zoe is their youngest child and often deemed their "miracle baby." Zoe was born prematurely, with a life-threatening disease. He was also born with detached retinas, which assured blindness to the child. The doctors told both Carmen and Jim that Zoe may survive the initial 24 hours, but if he survived he would never see, walk, or breathe on his own. Today, Zoe is a living, breathing miracle of life 2-year-old boy.
Recognizing Zoe's miracle, gratitude filled this families life. Their gratitude for their blessings inspired the Simpson's to develop a "wish list" of things they hope to do for others. This is a running list that Jim, Carmen, Isaac, Katelyn, and Zoe wish for and continuously work on, in order to give back and serve their community.
As the show goes, the family must leave temporarily while the house is rebuilt. During the project, the Simpson family vacationed in the Bahamas on a Disney Cruise. Meanwhile, JT Turner Construction and community volunteers, along with Ty, Tracy, Paul, Ed and crew, worked 24/7 to rebuild their home.
All week, people from around the community volunteered their time and talent to help make this project possible. On Tuesday, November 16th, four days into the construction I volunteered to help. Aside from the impracticalities and miracle of totally building a house in seven days, I was mesmerized by the vision I received when stepping off of the shuttle bus. The image of hundreds, literally hundreds, of people from the Savannah community working together to help out one of our own was simply breathtaking. There were people painting, sanding, shoveling, pouring concrete, laying floors, sweeping, laying brick, and so much more. And I should clarify, I have seen the show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, dozens of times... Nothing compares to being a part. During my time volunteering, I served meals (donated by Paula Deen's The Lady & Sons restaurant) and drinks to the workers, swept floors, shoveled dirt, and helped lay floor protectants throughout the house. The construction continued for days and the anticipation grew.
On Thursday, November 18th, they announce that the house will be revealed between 2PM-6PM! As the crowds gathered, appearances were made by the Georgia Southern University cheerleading squad, GUS the Georgia Southern University mascot, Ronald McDonald, along with Olympic gold medalist winner, Shaun White, Professional Snowboarder and Skateboarder. While waiting, I was allowed a sneak preview of the Simpson's new home as I hustled around assisting with last minute details. The house is absolutely amazing, both inside and out.
Finally, it was the moment we had all been waiting for. The Simpson family had just arrived in a limo and were greeted by celebrity guests, Paula Deen and Shaun White. While they patiently awaited the reveal of their brand, new home, the crowds began chanting the famous line, "Move That Bus!" The initial reaction of all five family members was emotional, motivational, and rewarding. As the bus rolled away, sheer gratitude was evident all over their faces. Little Katelyn had the biggest smile and began jumping for joy; definitely a moment I will not forget. As the family stood with the cast, along with Paula Deen and Shaun White, taking in the moment, Shaun White presented Isaac, the oldest son, with a skateboard. The excitement of both meeting Shaun White and the gift was evident through Isaac's big grin. After a short bit of time elapsed, it was time for the family to see the inside of their new home. These reactions, along with a view of the new home, will be aired on ABC, sometime in February of 2011.
The experience was remarkable, unforgettable, and satisfactory. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a life-changing moment. A special thanks to the cast, crew, staff, JT Construction, Paula Deen, and Shaun White; their time, assistance, and appearance helped make one wish on the Simpson's list come true. I would also like to thank Mr. Bryan Stovall of Bryan Stovall Photography, David Hartfield, and Ellisia Jesnes of KeytoSavannah.com for the wonderful photography.
See the preview now on the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition website, for the premiere of the Simpson family episode. The show will are on January 16, 2011 at 8PM on ABC.
By: Brianne Baggett