This week's episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (Sundays at 8 pm/ET, ABC) is all about "the fight," to train kids to see the champion within.
Situated in central New York, lays the historical town of Geneva. Its streets are lined with antique stores and quaint coffee shops, all just a stroll away from Lake Seneca. It is also home to the Geneva Boxing Team, led by Tim Hill — a true town hero. He won't admit it or take credit for how many lives he has turned around, but without Tim's noble strength many young teenagers would face less than promising lives. We honor the Hill family this week and it is with great pleasure that I share their story with you.
Tim and his wife Michelle have three biological children Justina, Jacob and Jayden. They are also parents to a very special young man named Aleem, also known as "Hammer" to many. Aleem faced many difficulties earlier on in life. Born into a family of 23 children, it proved challenging for his mother to take care of him and many feared that Aleem would eventually be lost in "the system." Fate played a big part in this boy's life and at the age of 8 Tim Hill became his boxing coach, mentor, a father figure and best friend. "He is a champion," Tim says, "Aleem is a bright and gifted boy. It was an easy decision for Michelle and I to welcome him into our family." Tim and Michelle felt privileged when they were awarded legal custody of Aleem. Today at the age of 18, Aleem is now a hero himself to many in the community, teaching younger children to believe in themselves is just one of his many gifts. It's not just Tim and Michelle's committed to their immediate family that makes this couple so special; it's the countless kids in their surrounding area that they have helped over the years through the art of boxing.
Tim's passion for boxing began many years ago; in fact he was an undefeated champion and even sparred with Evander Holyfield. However, his dreams were crushed when he broke his back on a construction site. It took a while for Tim to recover, but when this champ was back on his feet he decided to go back to school and earn a degree in Social Work and soon became a college counselor. It was during this period in his life that Tim realized that so many kids needed structure and discipline in their own lives that he knew exactly how he could help them by teaching them the art of boxing.
Tim soon started the Geneva Boxing Team and began training kids ages eight through twenty-one from broken and impoverished homes. He's never asked anyone to pay for lessons and in fact Tim also takes care of paying for the make shift gym he created in a small office building in down town Geneva. Tim's the "real deal" — the is the type of guy that would take his shirt of his own back if he knew you needed it and has been known for picking up and dropping off anyone who wanted to train at the gym. He has even gone as far and paid for his boxers to enter competitions and made sure they were clothed and fed when they didn't have anything, even if it meant he would go without.
Working with kids and helping them see their true potential is what the Hill family is all about. Tim not only trains people in the ring, he is Jacob's baseball coach and also manages to coach Jayden's little league and softball teams. Michelle is a school counselor and works with students with disabilities and teenagers 18 to 21 who are making the transition from high school to the "real world", helping them with everything from job placement to basic life skills. She's also been known to make lunches and dinners for those in need. Even Aleem, Justina, Jacob and little Jayden pitch in to help their parents and know first hand how their efforts help so many.
With all the attention on helping others, the Hill home has been put on the back burner for quite some time. The house is over two hundred years old and that alone speaks to the structural problems it has, not to mention the aged wiring and leaky room. When Aleem joined the family the only room they could accommodate him in was the old mudroom where he sleeps and trains. In Jacob's room Ty couldn't even stand up straight without hitting his head on the unusually shaped ceiling. Justina has to pass through Jayden's bedroom just to get to her own, and then there is the mystery staircase that led to know where due to an addition that was built in the early 1920's. Tim and Michelle have tried to maintain their home, but when it comes down to worrying about fixing a crack in the window or help a child in need, it's obvious what is more important to them. For all that the Hill family do — it was time someone stepped in their corner and helped them out.
As the bus drove up to the Hill's home we immediately noticed the wear-and-tear of the house, but on meeting the family you could tell their hearts were bigger than any problem their home was facing. We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us, so as soon as we sent the family on vacation our first boxing build began!
Round One we demoed the old house in honor of Tim's commitment to educating kids. However, before the house was "knocked out," we made sure we recycled a lot of the wood from the home that was reusable. Ty also got in there and reclaimed the front porch for a special project. Windows and useable doors were also removed and donated.
Round Two we brought in the builder and his team. Builder Tim Mahoney from Mahoney & Associates not only took on the challenge of building a house in seven days, he also built a state of the art boxing gym in the Hills back yard. Tim Mahoney has owned and operated his company for over twenty years and said, "building a house in a week is a challenge but by the end of this week it will be a home." It is because of people like Tim and his team that we are able to do what we do and seeing them work twenty-four hours a day to get this house built on time was simply breath taking. People drove from miles away to hang dry wall, help with electrical work and simply cheer us on. It just goes to show you when people come together anything is possible.
Round Three Ty got secretive very quickly; so you will you have to tune in this Sunday night to see what he did. I can however fill you in on what the rest of the design team did for the family. Michael not only designed the living areas and the kitchen but also created a very special room for Justina. Ed worked his magic and custom built a bed for Aleem's bedroom. It was really important for Ed that Aleem had a room that was just a bedroom, as he never really had one before. Johnny helped take care of that by designing the new Geneva Boxing Team gym in the Hill's back yard. That way Aleem just has to open the back door and walk a few feet to a new training room with all the right equipment. And I had the pleasure of designing Jacob and Jayden's room's. Let's just say, we all did well in this round!
The Final Round we brought the family home. As the Hill family stepped out of the limo they seemed overwhelmed by how many people were there to support them. Even before they saw their new home, I knew it was going to be a knock out!
My hope is that this week's episode will inspire you to give to an organization that benefits children in your community and that you start to believe in the simplest gestures and how they can truly make a difference in someone's life. To learn more about how you can help families like the Hill's in your community. Go to ABetterCommunity.com.