September 16, 2006 11:01 PM by Joe Blackmon
The "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" design team travels to Bergenfield, New Jersey to build a brand new renovated home in seven days for a deserving family of six who have overcome some difficult disabilities. In order to better meet the Llanes family’s unique needs, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin will serve as Team Leader for these special pre-season episodes of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," airing Sunday, September 17 (8:00-9:00 and 9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
When Vic Llanes started to lose his vision as a teenager, he accepted it. He didn’t feel sorry for himself, but instead married his high school sweetheart, Maria. Together they started a family in the Philippines.
Gven was their first-born and was diagnosed as an infant with Aniridia, the same degenerative eye disease her father has. The family was told it was highly unusual and unlikely that it would happen again, so they got pregnant with Zeb. But during Maria’s pregnancy, she contracted German measles. Zeb was born deaf and with severe allergies, and yet somehow the family pressed on. A few years later Vic learned he inadvertently passed on a genetic eye disorder to both of his daughters! Now almost everyone in the family is legally blind, including Isabel, Vic’s aging mother.
Vic and Maria immigrated to America in 1997 in search of better doctors and a better education for their ailing children. Although this loving family continues to comfort each other, their own home does not comfort them! The noise from the street mixes up their only remaining senses and is distracting to those who are losing their sight. Their home is also very dark with little light coming in. Since the girls can still see light, colors and brightness, adding plenty of windows, skylights and light fixtures would help all who suffer from the disease. Zeb, who is deaf, also struggles with allergies, so this family cannot have any carpet in their house that otherwise might help soundproof it for those going blind!
Although blind, Vic doesn’t let that stop him from helping others. He sends books in Braille to children all over the world and, amazingly, does the repair work around the house and most of the cooking for the family!
In this episode of EM:HE, the design team, scores of volunteers and local builder Pinnacle Communities will build a high-tech home that will help this very unique and loving family! During construction, the family goes on vacation to Walt Disney World. In addition, movie trailer voiceover artist Don Lafontaine will assist in narrating for the blind during the build, and legendary soul gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama perform.
The design team for this episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will feature Paul DiMeo, Michael Moloney, Ed Sanders, Eduardo Xol, Paige Hemmis, Preston Sharp and Tanya McQueen.