Tuesday, 15 December 2009 16:02
This was it.
Everything was leading up to this day – the day of “move that bus!”.
By Sarah Hsu; Photos by Rodney Rogers and Sarah Hsu
Thousands of volunteers helping around the clock, many, many hours of hard work and lack of sleep, cleaning, building, installing, moving, painting, arranging, landscaping, and completing all finishing touches – was all over late Monday afternoon.
Amid clapping, cheering and holding up handmade signs, a crowd of several hundred spectators and volunteers welcomed the Wagstaff family back home as the famous giant bus pulled away just before 5 pm, revealing the beautiful Harley Davidson color-themed exterior of the family’s new home and landscaped front yard.
The ABC show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” picked the Wagstaffs last Monday to receive a home makeover, and the family – Tobin and Jill and their four children, ages 4 to 7 – have been on vacation the last week while their house was being rebuilt.
“Extreme Makeover” host Ty Pennington and other members of the “Extreme Makeover” design team – Eduardo Xol, Paul DiMeo and Didiayer Snyder – and the builders came up to give hugs to the overwhelmed, yet joyous members of the Wagstaff family, as they waved to the crowd and the youngest son did a little dance in the middle of the street, all excited to see what was inside their new home.
Spectator Mary McGinnis, 85, says her son-in-law was one of the designers who helped design the kids’ rooms, so she came up from Palm Beach to see the reveal of the home.
“The house looks beautiful,” she says. “I always watch the show at home, and it’s just going to be fun to look forward to watching the program [when this episode airs] and knowing that I got to see it in person.”
Zola Johnson, another spectator, got to the site early to get a good spot, and she waited there seven hours to watch the family’s much-anticipated arrival.
“I’ve seen the show on TV many times, but I wanted to see it for myself in person,” she says. “So I was determined to come out here today and watch.”
The assistant volunteer coordinator, Kristina Sapp, says she watches “Extreme Makeover” religiously every Sunday night and knew she had to be a part of this event as soon as she heard about it.
“It is truly an honor and a blessing to be a part of this,” she says. “I am very surprised and elated that the Gainesville community has come together to make this happen, along with volunteers from surrounding areas. The volunteers, the food people, the builders – everyone working together is just amazing.”
Alicia Griffin, a member of the safety crew, wanted to help when she found out the show was coming to town.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime – to help on a show that millions of people watch,” she says. “How could I say no to this? Especially when it’s for such a deserving family.”
Many people, companies and sponsors were involved to make this whole event possible.
Leonard Sherouse of Sherouse Plastering, who helped with the drywall and plastering in the home, says that this process would not have been possible if people had not come forward and volunteered for the project.
“It’s not just the companies that have helped, but it’s the people behind the companies,” he says. “I wish there was a way that every worker and volunteer who has helped in this process could be named and recognized.”
In addition, Ark Remodeling & Construction project manager Alan Kloes says, “It was great to see the community come together as a whole, working selflessly and not complaining, all week. And helping one family can change into helping many other families.”
For everyone else who wants to see the inside of the new home and the rest of what has been filmed over the last seven days, they will have to wait until the episode of the show airs on ABC, which is expected to be between late February and early March 2010.