January 20, 2008 09:18 PM by DA Southern
The Extreme Makeover gang consisting of Ty Pennington, designers Paige Hemmis, Rib Hillis, Ed Sanders and Eduardo Xol, wielded the big bus into the sleepy town of Port Deposit, Maryland in a special two-hour episode to give a helping hand to the Luther family.
The team tackles the task of building a new homestead for Renee and her kids and to grant the final wish of Renee Luther’s husband, Carl, who passed away from liver cancer by renovating the equestrian program that Renee started.
Ty and the gang watched the submission video that chronicled the storied history of the family’s mission to assist families in need in the Port Deposit area with therapeutic riding lessons, which is now in its 25th year of operation, and includes a roster of students who suffer from a wide range of physical problems that include brain injuries, broken necks, autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental issues. Renee Luther started The Freedom Hills Riding Program to carry on her mother’s mission to help families in need. Now on her own, Renee now has to raise and support her kids, in addition to maintaining her riding facility. Struggling with finances, she fears she will have to close the facility, which she had promised her husband she would renovate.
Ty and the team now have the daunting mission to keep the dying wish of Renee’s husband alive and to give Renee and her family the dignity to rebuild their lives. Ty and the designers, with local builders Clark Turner Signature Homes and hundreds of volunteers and workers, spring into action for the seven day build as the Luther family go on vacation to Adventure By Disney in Italy.
As the huge bus quietly tip-toed to the front of the Luther home at 8:08 AM on Day 1, hardly making a noise. Ty was able to get off the bus, get his megaphone positioned, without the family having the slightest idea they were there, and yell, “Good Morning Luther family…come on down.” or something like that.
The surprised family was out quickly and greeted Ty and the team and, after the warm greetings, Ty announced that they were off on Vacation to Italy and that he wanted to see the house before they left.
Ty wanted the grand tour and, since we had a two-hour extravaganza, we would have more of a look at the Luther’s homestead tonight. Mom and Ty had a look around the home and Ty noticed that the Husband’s jacket was still draped around a chair. Mom, Renee, said that she had not had a chance to move it moving Ty to say that she and the kids were struggling with the home since Carl had actually died in the home. Ty knew that building them a new home would give the family the opportunity to move forward.
Rib was seen with son, Alex, 14, who told of his love of flying and that he wanted to be a fighter pilot one day and Paige was seen with Ellie, who told of her love of Horses and Christian Heavy Metal, which she termed “pretty metal”. Ty then gathered the family for the quarter-mile hike to the family business, The Freedom Hills Riding Program. Ty immediately noticed that it was difficult for the family to properly manage the program with the house so far away and decided to change the home’s location.
Ty saw that the barn was not adequately meeting the needs of the program and Renee and the kids told the designers how it was difficult to manage the different aspects of the program with the current design. Ty was seen with Renee and she told Ty that she had been on the land since she was 2 years old and that her mother actually named the program Freedom Hills because it frees the disabled from what holds them back. Ty sent the family to Italy and took the designers to the top of the hill overlooking the riding program area and showed them where the new home would be built.
Day 2 started for us at 9:53 AM and had Ed and new guy, Rib, with horse do-do duty as they were prepping the area for the renovations. The thousands of volunteers and builders from Clark Turner Signature Homes were seen marching jubilantly to Ty and the gang for what looked to be the largest build ever on Extreme Makeover. Ty donned the video camera for the family in Italy and showed them that they had thousands of people helping to build the new house and barn and where the new home would be.
Day 3 started with a shocker as the house was completely framed in and shingles were being put on the roof. Ed showed us around the new barn addition with a fantastic new inside riding stable completely free from the rough New England winters. Rib was seen working on what looked to be a massive cockpit of a bomber for Alex’s room and Eduardo was seen showing us the wide hallways that were completely ADA compatible. Ellie’s room was in the throws of having metal put all over it as Paige was working with a local metal designer to make the room special for the girl.
Ed, who every time I hear him I think of the Geico Gecko talking about biscuits and gravy, was knee deep in the signage for the new barn and Ty was, as usual, being extremely coy about his secret project, Renee’s Master Bedroom.
Day 4 came hurling at us at 9:13 AM as we saw Paige talking to Clark Turner of Clark Turner Signature Homes as he was saying that he noticed a slight imperfection in the foyer pattern of the bricks and how he was having it redone. Ed was showing the new rooms in the barn for all of the riding equipment and detailing the state-of-the-art facility that will greet the Luther family on their arrival home.
Rib’s actual fighter pilot cockpit build for son, Alex, was becoming even more impressive as time edged by and Ed was once again showing us a new feature in the barn, a covered area that could be used to drop off disabled students.
Day 5 had Ty taking the designers to the place where the horses from Renee’s riding stable were being housed and they saw that the classes were still being presented. The gang had a chance to meet some of the families impacted by Renee’s program and one of the most touching was a man who was a horse trainer who had been injured in a horsing accident. Renee’s program had given the man a chance to get back on the horse and you could sense how grateful he was. Ty donned the video camera and shot a video for the family in Italy and Renee was indeed touched to see how much she was loved and respected.
As the day changed into night on the huge build, a 4200 square foot house and a 7000 square foot barn addition, we saw Paige talking to Clark Turner at 2:46 AM of what was Day 6 about the final push. At 10:52 AM, Ty was seen horsing around in his secret room. OK, he was putting horse pictures up, and Eduardo and Ed each had a megaphone, one at the house and one at the barn, and announced that the furniture was about to be put in. Eduardo was not sure if Ed and Rib could beat him and Paige because they had never actually done a barn before.
Day 7, the Luther family arrived home. Ty greets the family and does a quick meet-and-greet and they get to “Bus Driver, Move That Bus” fairly quickly. After seeing the house, in a first ever, Ty said “Trailer man, Move That Trailer…” and the family had a first look at the barn.
Ty sent them into the house and they were overwhelmed at the expansive house. Ty was in quickly and pointed out the details of the wide hallways and the mud room that would be used for the family to make sure that no mud and horse stuff would come into the house.
Ellie was first in her room and loved the metal features that Paige had incorporated as well as her own bathroom. The room for Alex was incredible with an actual flight simulator that Rib built. Alex said that now he never wanted to leave.
Ty showed the Master Bedroom to Renee and, besides the pictures of horses on the walls, he did not have any other animals adorning the walls. Thanks, Ty!
The gang all convened for the trip to the barn and as the family opened the barn door there was a whole bunch of Barn stuff. You know…stuff that makes barns cool, I guess. The coolest room, was the room with all of the new riding equipment and, of course, the awesome inside riding area that had many of the families that Renee and her kids help on a daily basis, as well as the designers, waiting for them.
Finally, Ty finished the episode with his patented line, “Welcome home, Luther family, welcome home” and hugs abounded.
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Photo Credit: ABC