Extreme Makeover Home Edition invades Lawton neighborhood

LAWTON, OK- It seemed everyone knew they were coming and today they finally showed up.  ABC's hit show "Extreme Home Makeover" arrived in Lawton this morning to change the lives of the Westbrook family.

The Westbrook family has been hard hit by two separate incidents.  In April of 2004, then Drill Sergeant Gene Westbrook was hit by a mortar at an American camp mess hall in Baghdad, Iraq.  The attack left Westbrook paralyzed.

Then last July, another accident shook the family.  While en route to visit friends near Walters, OK, the family van lost control, touched an oncoming vehicle, and flipped into a ditch.  The accident left the Westbrook's' nine-year-old son, James, paralyzed and caused internal injuries to their daughter, who later lost a kidney.

The day after the accident, Gene Westbrook suffered a stroke, leaving him with further damage to his right arm and some loss of memory.   Peggy Westbrook recovered quickly from the accident to take on the daunting task of trying to rehabilitate both her husband and son and raising the rest of the family.  That task is made ever more difficult because the family must maneuver two wheelchairs around their ranch home, which was not designed to be handicapped accessible.

Enter "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."  The producers chose to give the Westbrook family and their home a new start.   "This family has suffered not one, but two tragedies.  The outpouring of support already shown by the Lawton/Fort Sill community towards the Westbrook's caught our attention.  This makeover is about an American family and a community at its finest, when the heart rules," said "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" Co-Executive Producer Conrad Ricketts.

The new home will expand on American Disability Act standards and make the Westbrook's' lives at home much easier.  "This home is designed and built for this family.  A great deal of attention has been paid not only to the aesthetic value of the home but also to the ease with which the Westbrook's can access its amenities.  The real payoff in this project is being able to bring this great family back to a home they can live in comfortably," said Ron Nance, local builder for the project.

Starting today more than 1,300 people will begin working around the clock to complete the 4,000 square foot home in time for the reveal to the Westbrook's on February 22.

Site excavation will begin on February 17.  Taping of the show will start today and will continue through the reveal.  The Westbrook's' episode is scheduled to air on April 8.

Be sure to watch 7 News at five and six tonight for more on the Westbrooks and the impact this massive project will have on the community.

(Thanks to Ron Nance's the Oaks Development Company)