Lawton_Believe it or not, it was one year ago this week that the Westbrook family received an "Extreme Makeover." Gene Westbrook and his son James are both paralyzed, and the makeover was a chance for their entire family to have a house that functioned better for all of them.
Their home was literally torn to the ground to make room for a new, improved house, built by the community. Once construction was finished and it came time for the big reveal, ABC and the extreme makeover team didn't disappoint. Now, the Westbrooks have lived in their new house for one year. The size may still be the best part. "It's so spacious. We have wheelchair races all the time," says Gene.
Life has been easier for the whole family because of the incredible gift of a new home. "They've given my husband and son independence," says Peggy. She says they've become local celebrities. "People look at you and not know who you are, and don't think a whole lot of it. But, when the two wheelchairs are there, and then [they say] 'YOU got the makeover.'"
But, local fame has been a double edged sword for the Westbrooks. They expected people to be curious about life in the new house, but they didn't expect gossip. "It's surprising what people say about you," says Peggy. I was told I sold all the appliances and gambled the money away at a casino. When it comes down to it, we're just a family like anybody else. We're just a little different."
Even though dealing with rumors can be hard, they know the house is something special because it was built by the community. "From tearing down the old one, to the very last nail in the roof - they built our house. It was because of the Lawton Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Texas community took part. And, we're thankful. We are."