The heart-tugging original feel-good series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" concludes its 9th and final season on ABC tonight.
During its run, the quintessential feel-good reality show transformed the lives of thousands of deserving families and galvanized communities and businesses to help their neighbors in need. "EM:HE" also put a spotlight on causes that touched these families, ranging from the treatment of serious illnesses or accident victims and the importance of foster care and adoption, to helping veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and the plight of the homeless, to campaigning against texting while driving and building coalitions to end bullying. Celebrities including First Lady Michelle Obama, Elton John, Robin Williams, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Glenn Close, Tyler Perry, Mary J Blige, Carrie Underwood, David Duchovny, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Usher, KISS, Rihanna, Jessica Alba and Derek Jeter are among the many who "got on the bus" over the years to join the show. In addition, the series won multiple Emmys for Outstanding Reality Program, received six Emmy nominations, won two People's Choice Awards and an NAACP Image Award, as well as many additional honors.
As the series traveled to all 50 states, the team designed and re-built over 200 state of the art homes, and didn't stop there, also tackling firehouses, schools, daycares, soup kitchens, Little League fields, free clinics, churches, food and clothing shelters, summer camps, community centers, dormitories, parks, teen centers, homeless shelters, animal shelters, dance studios, therapeutic riding centers and much more. A typical build attracted 3,000-5,000 volunteers, for a total of over one million people sacrificing their time to build for their neighbors. "EM:HE" held blood drives along with the American Red Cross and collected life-saving blood for over 20,000 people to date. For each build, they'd fill an average of three food pantries for those in need. In Toledo, Ohio, they collected three truck-loads of school supplies, clothes and food for Haiti. In Indianapolis, Indiana, the builder made over six blocks surrounding the inner city location of the show's build site. In Salem Oregon, "EM:HE" worked with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to supply over 150 hearing aids to children from the Oregon School for the Deaf and their families. In Buffalo, New York, with the help of Americorps, volunteers finished over 100 projects for inner city homes. More than 50,000 people from all 50 states took the pledge to stop texting while driving. And over 140,000 people took a stand to end bullying.
"Joplin, Missouri" -- In October 2011, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" traveled to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri, to celebrate its 200th episode in historic fashion. The show surprised an unprecedented 7 families with the door knock that changes lives, and the "EM:HE" design team and a volunteer "army" of 13,000 people, along with the builders, will create 7 beautiful homes in just 7 days. In addition, they refurbished a local park, created a new playground and a poignant memorial site to those volunteers who came to the aid of others during and after the tornado. Celebrities who got involved with this episode include LA Laker Kobe Bryant, Kansas City Chiefs' matt Cassel and Clark Hunt, as well as "Good Morning America's" Sam Champion. This episode will air Friday, January 13, (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
On May 22, 2011, a catastrophic tornado ravaged the town of Joplin, killing approximately 160 people and destroying nearly 8,000 houses. This will be the biggest build ever for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" - 7 homes will be built for 7 deserving families. Some of the Joplin families lost friends, some lost children, and all lost their homes.
The parents and children from all 7 of the Joplin families were whisked away on a dream vacation to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, while "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team leader Ty Pennington, designers Paul DiMeo, Paige Hemmis, Michael Moloney and Tracy Hutson, along with Sam Clifton from Millstone Custom Homes, who is lead builder for 21 builders, and approximately 13,000 Volunteers and community volunteers build the structures and work on the local park. These are the stories of the seven families:
The Howard Family
Kyle, the father and a Joplin fireman, was at work at the fire station during the storm and spent the first two hours after the tornado not knowing if his wife and kids had made it out alive. He made many stops along the way home, through the rubble, rescuing trapped victims and tending to injured members of the community. Meanwhile Jill and their children, Konnor, Korbin and Kaleb, huddled in a closet. A door landed on top of them, which they used to deflect the debris. This ultimately saved their lives. After the storm, they had no idea if Kyle was alive, but eventually the family, along with older son Keenan, who was out of town at the time, was reunited. Jill sustained minor injuries, but their home was completely destroyed.