LAWTON-- Gene Westbrook and his family know a lot about change. Their lives changed when Gene was paralyzed by a mortar round in Iraq. Then last year a car crash nearly killed the family and left 9-year-old James paralyzed. On Thursday, their lives changed in a positive way, thanks to an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. While they were gone last week, local builders and volunteers gave the family a whole new lease on life. For the first time, they got to see it on Thursday.
Everything happened pretty much like you see it on the show every week. Production crews practiced the reveal several times before it really happened, but there was one thing that could not be rehearsed--the family's reaction to their new home.
It was the moment everyone had been waiting for. The Westbrooks returning to Lawton to begin their new life. Host Ty Pennington was there to greet the family, and he wasn't alone. Aside from countless spectators, Gene's fellow soldiers and the men and women who gave their labor for the Westbrooks new home were also there. After getting off the shuttle, it was time. The crowd cheered, "Move that bus! Move that bus! Move that bus!!" The bus rolled out and the family got to see their new home.
Ron Nance's building crew made the construction happen. The rest was up to the Makeover designers, including Ed Sanders. You'll remember he got hurt on another show a few weeks ago. "Last night, for me, was actually the easiest show I've ever done in my career on the show, because I had a get out of work free card thing," said Sanders, showing his bandaged hand.
But he could paint. The rest of the design team had to pick up the slack. "From the front it looks like every other house around here, but you get inside it just goes back, back, back. It's about 4,000 square feet. It's huge. But they need it. They need the room," said Sanders. He says the Westbrook's story, their lives, were especially inspiring for him. This coming from a man who has designed numerous houses for the show. "Dad and son said they couldn't be together in the same room because it's so small. This house has no carpet, no steps, it's all level. It's a beautiful house. Ron Nance has done a great job," Sanders said.
"I told the Westbrooks that everybody had so much fun doing this, and the reason that they had fun is they were thinking about them every moment. It was spectacular," said builder, Ron Nance.