LAWTON-- It took months of waiting and thousands of your signatures, but it's now official. A Lawton family is getting a brand new home thanks to the reality show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". We've been following the Westbrook family's story since 2004 when Gene, then a sergeant in the army, was hit by a mortar round in Iraq and paralyzed.
Then, last June, Gene and his family were injured in a van crash near Waurika Lake. It nearly took Gene's life. It also left his 9-year-old son James paralyzed.
Despite all these monumental setbacks, the family has moved forward -- and with smiles on their faces. Now, thousands of local volunteers along with a few celebrities are about to make the Westbrooks' lives a whole lot better.
On Saturday, their current home is coming down, and a new 4,000 square foot home is going up. Not only will the new house be bigger, it will also be completely wheelchair accessible, for both Gene and little James.
The Westbrooks knew they had a chance to appear on the show, but it wasn't until the folks from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" showed up this morning that the Westbrooks knew their dream had come true. "The decisions you have to make on carpeting, flooring, walls, colors, cabinets... it's just overwhelming, and to know it's all going to be done in one week by the Lawton community, it's just awesome, it's the most wonderful thing in the world," said Peggy Westbrook.
"It was phenomenal. I keep saying that word. It was just amazing to see all that support we have in the community," said Gene Westbrook.
Transforming their current home to handle one wheelchair was tough enough when Gene first returned from war. Even then, it still left plenty of challenges. But then, James also needed a wheelchair. "That's exactly what these two need. To feel comfortable at home again. They need a place where they can move around just like we can," said Peggy Westbrook. And that's the plan. Hundreds, upon hundreds of volunteers will make it happen with their labor, along with the financial support of local businesses. For those on the show the Westbrooks were an easy choice. "They're amazing. I'm telling you that's why we call it family unity. They've made it through something not many people could have," said Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington.
"It's an overwhelming outpouring of people, 24,000 people on a petition, that said we have found the right family," said show contributor Preston Sharp.
"For Peggy taking care of me and the other three in the house, it's going to be an amazing house," said Gene Westbrook.
The Westbrooks will stay in a resort in Alabama where they'll be able to relax and hopefully have some fun until their home is ready next week.