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Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; The Vitale Family

December 09, 2007 08:30 PM by DA Southern

Ty Pennington Photo by BOB D'AMICO Ty opened the show riding a great looking hybrid bike through the beautiful Vermont countryside as he introduced us to this week’s family, the Vitale’s.

Ty Pennington and designers Michael Moloney, Paige Hemmis, Tanya McQueen and Rib Hillis were in Athens, Vermont to assist Parents, Sara and Lou Vitale and their sons, Kane, who is two and especially, one and a half year old Louie Angelo Jr. Louie Angelo Jr. was diagnosed with multiple birth defects, including Arthogryposis, club feet and skeletal displasia. Although the young lad can not get around as well as a typical baby, he still loves to be as active as possible and loves to paint. So much so that his mother, Sarah, started an organization, Angel Boy Art, in honor of her son which allows children to paint and auction off their work to raise money and awareness for their particular disease.

As Ty and the design team watched the video of young Louie Angelo Jr., they were touched at the creative attempts of Sara and Lou to provide the best way possible for the baby. Sara and Lou have tried making ramps and had done their best, but it was not enough. Their home was built on a weak foundation that consisted of tree trunks, bare earth and shifting blocks that did not support the house. Engineers said that one day, without warning, the house would collapse and possibly harm everyone inside. In bad weather, the rain poured in through the hallways, making it difficult for emergency medical technicians to maneuver when called upon for Louie Jr.

Ty and the design team decided to give it a try to help the family and arrived on Day 1 at 9:09 am to awaked the family with Ty’s patented mega-bullhorn alarm system he used to bother the neighborhood, I mean, wake up the family. The family,as expected, rushed out to meet the team, but what was funny was to see Dad, Lou, give a huge bear hug to Ty.

In one of the first for the design team, a family actually wanted to go and volunteer at a place that helped them, David’s House, a home designed to assist families with housing when other family members were in the hospital. Sara spent 18 weeks when Lou Jr. was first born at David’s House and she and Lou Sr. felt compelled to give back. So Ty told them that they could go and spend a week there as their house was being built but before they could go, Ty had Sara and Lou take him in to see the home.

We have seen homes that were falling down before on Extreme, but this home literally was ready to fall down because the foundation was so poorly constructed. Sara and Lou showed the cramped quarters that had to be adapted because of the sickness of Lou Jr. Sara showed Ty the 24/7 care equipment that must be provided to Lou Jr. on a daily basis and how the home made it impossible for the paramedics to get into the house should they have to be called to assist. Ty listened to Lou Sr. and the struggle he and Sara endured in the first few days of Lou Jr’s life and the subsequent months since then when the doctors would be vague on his son’s prognosis while Paige was seen Talking to Sara. Sara had such simple demands for a room, like making sure her grandmother’s old chair was in the room as well as a window seat. Ty finally hugged the family and sent them on their vacation to David’s House as the crew readied the home for demolition.

Day 2 started out early as local builder, The McKernon Group, Inc., and hundreds of volunteers and workers swarmed the home to begin the week job of building the Vitale home. Kevin Birchmore, of the McKernon Group was thankful for the volunteers and his crew that would spend the next 106 hours as Ty grabbed the camera for the video record for the family. As Ty greeted the family, we saw the crew prepare for a first-ever manual destruction of a home. This home was so poorly constructed, that the crew pulled it from its foundation with no problem before the bulldozers finished up the job.

Day 3 started with a quick look at the “green” build from Ty as he explained the construction methods in the foundation that will keep the house better insulated for the long Vermont winters. We were quickly transported to our new designer, Rib Hillis, as he looked to be almost taken out by a rolling 55 gallon drum for son Kane’s room Steam Engine bedroom. That poor designer must be under some sort of Extreme initiation ritual as he has been given some kooky assignments so far. Paige was seen tackling the chair that Sara deemed important to her from her “Nana”, (her grandmother), but Paige was going to have it re-upholstered, as well, and said that she would “do a lot better for Sara”. Finally, we had a glimpse of Ty’s secret project for Lou Jr, and, it involved monkeys.

Day 4 started for the humble viewers at 12:02 pm as we got a glimpse of the special feeding equipment that was being placed in multiple locations in the home so as to free up Sara from dragging a single piece of equipment for the feeding of baby Lou. Tanya was hard at work in the playroom for the kids, which was the actual first real glimpse of Tanya this episode.

Paige and Ty were off to see the family at David’s House, where the family was volunteering for the week. Ty and Paige were there to help Sara jumpstart the Angel Boy Art project that Sara was so passionate about by having kids do some paintings to add to the ones Lou Jr. had done for a possible gallery showing.

Day 5 started early at 11:20 am (I swear the crew must sleep in late every day) as we saw Paige showing us the improvements to the entrance of the home for easy accessibility for an EMS crew, should baby Lou need quick assistance. Tanya and Michael were off to a LazyBoy design center for all of the furniture for the home (What, no Sears store around this week?) and poor Rib was sent to the other side of the tracks to record actual train sounds for the room for the older son, Kane. Poor Rib, couldn’t he just have paid the sound guys five bucks to do that for him?

Day 6 had the filming crew rolling out of bed at 4:20 pm to give us the final preparations for the families arrival on Day 7. Ty was showing us the playground that was donated by CVS Pharmacy and how it was safe for baby Lou and completely wheelchair accessible and the furniture arrived for the final push to completion. Paige announced that she was bringing the family home early so she could show Sara the first Gallery showing of Louie Jr’s art and the other paintings from the kids on exhibition at an Art Gallery, which brought Sara to tears. In a touching statement, Lou Sr. said that because of Lou Jr. he learned something new everyday as did everyone who came into contact with him.

Day 7 is the House Reveal Day as he family rolled up in the Limo. The family met the builders, The McKernon Group and Kevin Birchmore as they shouted with Ty, “Bus driver, Move That Bus…” to reveal the home that would become a safe haven for the Vitale family. Ty sent them into the home and Sara and Lou were shocked as to the features the design team had built into the home for baby Lou. Sara was so relieved to see the feeding stations that she just wept.

Ty arrived and showed told them that many of the features were the unseen construction techniques that went into the home. Ty sent the family into the other parts of the home with older sone, Kane, into his railroad theme room first. All he could say was “choo-choo train” and “bubbles”. Sara and Lou next went into the Master Bedroom and, of course, loved it. Sara especially was touched that she had a window seat and her “Nana’s” chair.

In the secret room segment, Ty had them see baby Lou’s room and it was thoughtfully designed to stimulate the baby’s senses with hanging mobiles and festive wall designs. Additionally, there was all of the medical equipment that would grow with Lou Jr. as it would become increasingly more difficult to manage him as he grew. Additionally, CVS Pharmacy had donated medical supplies for the baby’s needs. Ty was seen saying how great it was to make a difference in someone’s life.

In our final segment, Ty had the older son, Kane, open the door to the fantastic CVS backyard playground that would accommodate both of the children’s needs as the whole design team met the family for the final love fest. Finally, Ty huddled the family together for the final time in the episode and gave us the signature sign off, “Welcome home, Vitale family, welcome home”.

Topics: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition |

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2 Responses to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; The Vitale Family”

  1. annalleman Says:
    September 3rd, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    My name is Ann Vitale Alleman. I live in Louisiana. Saw your show today from 2007. How are you?

  2. Talib Says:
    February 23rd, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Hi, I am mailing all the way from Nigeria and after watching this show, my heart bleeds for the vitals family. The father is so emotional and the mother is todo simple. May God bless her. May God bless all the helpers. This is why we are on this earth. Love. Love. Love


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