By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The work of building a house for a deserving family got a celebratory kickoff Wednesday night at the Tennessee Theatre.
Hundreds of volunteers for the project packed the theater to welcome the senior producer of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and other members of the show’s production crew.
Knoxville is one of the last locations scheduled for the show, that has seen an eight-year run on ABC.
On January 10, Ty Pennington and the cast of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will announce to the deserving family they will get the gift of a lifetime. And that’s when the real work begins of building the house in one week
“The preparation that goes on months ahead of time is overwhelming and it’s so orchestrated,” said contractor and team leader Lori Gano of Heritage Homes & Designs. “It takes so many people to pull this off.”
Architect Kristin Grove, of Johnson Architecture, said she couldn’t wait to be a part of it.
“Every time I’ve watched that show I’ve cried. It’s a very emotional thing to look at a community that comes together to change people’s lives,” said Grove.
Grove added that it’s a huge labor of love.
“It’s very big. We have a 4,500 square foot build. When I say build, I don’t just mean buildings,” she explained. “There’s landscape design, there’s site design, there’s things that involve all ages of the family. So you try to create a community within this construction project that we’re doing, because we know that when we leave they’re going to be there to enjoy it forever.”
Gano will be on site overseeing all construction alongside ABC crews. She is just one of many women taking charge on the build.
“A lot of the people that are behind the scenes coordinating the build are women,” she said, “and then almost half of our build team are also women which makes me super excited as a female contractor and business owner.”
More than 3,000 people have signed up to volunteer.
“I would love to volunteer, maybe do some trim carpentry,” said Bise, one of the volunteers. “I have a little background in that in my past. So I’d like to get in there, get my hands dirty and see what we can do.”
Bise’s 10-year-old son Devin is excited that his dad may have the opportunity.
“It’s pretty cool, I mean, it’s a good show,” Devin said. “I remember my mom watching it. She would just cry at the unveiling.”
Wednesday’s pep rally was an emotional welcome for the show’s senior producer, Milan Vasic.
“Only two more to go,” he told the crowd, “and the reality is that I hope no one in here ever needs Extreme Makeover, because if we come you’re really going through some challenging times.”
Grace Construction is heading up the project. Organizers told the crowd that more volunteers, and construction materials are still needed. Skilled framers are needed most.