Extreme Home Makeover • Welcome home, Anaiah!
The hard work of hundreds of volunteers changes a local family’s life in just one week
Story and Photos by Judy A. Maxwell
Infographic by Katie Walker
It takes a village…
It looked as if every man and woman in Madison turned out to volunteer. The neighborhood in southwest Madison, where ABC TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was building a house for Anaiah Rucker and her family teemed with people in blue T-shirts and hard hats among construction equipment. The bustle of activity went on for six days as skilled trades people and helpers pulled together to construct a 2,500-square-foot home for the 10-year-old and her mother and younger sisters.
An estimated 1,000 people 18 years old and up, of different races and varying skill levels wielded hammers, carried lumber, caulked windows, laid tile, nailed roof shingles, cooked food, served meals, stocked coolers with water and soft drinks, handled paperwork, rendered first aid, picked up trash, drove shuttle buses and operated construction equipment and moved furniture.
Besides the physical efforts, hundreds of thousands of dollars in building materials and labor were freely given to provide single mom Andrea Taylor, Anaiah and the girls with a home of their own.
The build was extreme in many ways. The Madison community and businesses gave it their all for the “Extreme Makeover” project during an extreme economic recession and in extreme heat – two very good excuses for not reaching out that Madison chose to ignore.
All under a blazing Georgia sun whose 100-degree heat tried to squeeze the last bit of energy out of the TV crew members. “Extreme Makeover” cast member Micheal Moloney said the unyielding heat was one of the more memorable elements about the Madison build. The heat and Anaiah, that is.
“When I saw that shiny little face … it’s just great to know you are in the right place at the right time,” Moloney said during an interview outside his air-conditioned trailer July 12. As for the heat index of 110, Moloney said: “It’s brutal. I hope this is as bad as it gets.”
Moloney said he was amazed at the number of volunteers who showed up under such record-making temperatures.
Shane Seabolt, a local Realtor and on-site volunteer coordinator, said the build started Sunday, July 11, and went round the clock in four shifts of six hours each until Friday, when local contractors from Pilot Builders and Smart Properties turned the keys over to “Extreme Makeover” front man Ty Pennington and other designers who went to work on the inside of 1190 Bell Circle in time for the Rucker family’s return Saturday from a vacation in Disney World.
Seabolt and Mark Schlabach, one of the men who rallied community support for Anaiah since the Feb. 4 car accident that cost her a leg, estimated 40 skilled trades people and 40 helpers turned out for each shift. “It is amazing to see all of these people,” said Seabolt, whose wife, Christen was one of Anaiah’s fourth-grade teachers. “And to see how willing people are to help,” a lot of them even coming from out of town. Alabama, Florida and Tennessee are just three of the states that some of the volunteers hailed from, many of them participating in their second or third “Extreme Makeover” build.
Anaiah Rucker’s new house was the 194th one to go up since the TV show first aired nearly 10 years ago. Every show has a message, Moloney said. This one is about everyday citizens getting trained in CPR in recognition of Loretta Berryman, who took a CPR class about 16 years ago, and became what the show’s producers like to call “a hero in waiting” when she used the life-saving skill to revive Anaiah that horrific morning of Feb. 4. Berryman, who has become close to Anaiah and her family, was asked to be at the wheel of the “Extreme Makeover” bus Saturday afternoon when the home was revealed to the family.
All of the volunteers at the build site as well as those who raised money and support for Anaiah’s health care and family needs are heroes, said Brady Connell, the show’s executive producer. “That’s why we are here,” he said. “The fact that the community already raised money and support for Anaiah…it was really important that that all happened long before we came. The heroic actions of one child started all this.”
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Season 9 airs Friday nights from 8-9 p.m. EST this fall on ABC. The Rucker family, episode 3 for the season, is currently scheduled for October 21, 2011
For more of the
Morgan County Citizen’s coverage, go to the following pages:
1A The Big Reveal
4C Economic Impact
5C Volunteer Photos
10C Fundraising Efforts
Did you volunteer?
Tell us about your experience! Submitting a letter to the editor is easy. Email
gmail.com. Please limit submissions to 250 words or less and submit by 5 p.m., Monday, July 25. Thanks! We can’t wait to hear your story!
By the numbers:
the length of each work shift at the build site.
volunteers and skilled labor worked around the clock, four shifts each day, for six days to complete the house.
the number of daily volunteers who worked on the house. the 40 blue hard hats encircling this chart represent the skilled trades people, the white hard hats represent the 40 unskilled volunteers who pitched in each shift.
the average cost of skilled labor each day,
provided by each contracting company
(including framing, siding, masonry,
building and flooring companies.)
Printed in the July 21, 2011 edition