Paige Hemmis

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The Brown Family

Bridgeport, Connecticut: At 5:55 pm the bus moved and one, two, three family members hit the pavement, while the fourth did a back flip. It could be the hardest I have cried in the five seasons of the show — well, happy tears that is. It was the kind of cry where I couldn't breathe, where I didn't even realize that tears were streaming down my face until I noticed my shirt was wet. And just when I started to feel self-conscious about my sobs, I looked to my left and looked to my right and noticed the entire crowd crying with me. Michael stood to my right, tears streaming down his face as well. To be there, on that small street in a small town in Connecticut, the energy was palpable. We all felt the happiness of this one amazing family as they first viewed the rest of their lives and the continuation of their dreams. The Brown family has been through a lot — probably more than most of us will ever experience in our lifetime. When most people would be complaining about what ... read more

The Akana Family

When we started this tour of the entire United States, I think we were all thinking the same thing: Since we were going to all 50 states, that meant that we would one day go to Hawaii! And that is exactly what we did. Ty, Michael, Ed, Paul, Eduardo and I headed over the Pacific. What a great way to start our fifth season of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition… in America's paradise. What most people don't realize is that actually living in Hawaii is extremely difficult, very expensive and incredibly challenging. There are so many people there who need help. And that's exactly how the Akana family is — in need of help, yet they have done so much to help other Hawaiian families… over 9,000 to be exact!Several years ago, the Akana family started Keiki O Ka 'Aina (or KOKA), a nonprofit organization that helps build strong families by focusing on education and community. They started this organization out of their own living room, and even when they fell on hard times, they ne... read more

May 20, 2007: Oatman-Gaitan Family

At the beginning of the season, we set out to travel to all of the 50 states — well, at least 25 this year and 25 next year — to help a different family in each state. We started in Alaska back in June and just recently finished in New York. What a great way to finish off a very long, but very incredible season.We arrived in a little town called Colonie, which is located in upstate New York. Snow covered the ground and temperatures were near freezing, but by the end of the week, the snow had melted and the sun was shining. We had a bigger crew than normal — Ty, Michael, Tanya, Tracy, Paul, Eduardo and myself — because we had a bigger job than normal. Not only did we set out to make a difference in the lives of an amazing family, the Oatman-Gaitans, but we also set out to make a difference in many families' futures by building a recreation building for Camp Heartland — a camp for kids with AIDS and their families.We were met by George Sr. and George Jr. of Am... read more

April 8, 2007: The Jones Family

Here's something you won't see on television... while Shoemaker Homes, led by our youngest homebuilder-to-date, Scott Shoemaker, was building an amazing home for the Jones family, I was running around the job site with a behind-the-scenes camera in my hands. But this wasn't for anything that TV Guide will have in its lineup — this was for a little home project of mine. This year marks the 40th anniversary of my grade school, St. John Eudes, in a little town called Chatsworth, California, just north of Los Angeles. I was supposed to be their keynote speaker for a dedication ceremony they were holding, but duty called me away to this little town in Mississippi to help Sabrena, Marjon, Mardaireus and Marjiya Jones. But I didn't want to let my alma mater down, so instead of being there in person, I sent them a video of what life was like on the set of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It was actually really fun to borrow the "Ty Cam" and be my own cameraman for the week.So here's wh... read more

April 1, 2007: Wilson Family

How's your golf game? Well, I hope they don't show mine this Sunday on TV! Since South Carolina is home to hundreds of golf courses, and is known for the fantastic golf courses of Myrtle Beach. So we thought we would incorporate that theme into this week's demolition.This family, the Wilsons, lived in a small trailer that was over 40 years old, making it weak and susceptible to the elements. So when the design team (Ty, Tanya, Preston, Paul and myself) got out their golf clubs and started off demolition by hitting the small trailer with golf balls, it actually did work... a little bit. We finished it off by bringing in the big guns, and the trailer was down in an instant. But this is where I learned that my golf game leaves a lot to be desired. If I could just put down the hammer long enough to have time to practice my swing!We were just outside of Myrtle Beach in a town called Longs. It was beautiful but very, very cold. Whereas Myrtle Beach is very populated and quite a tourist sp... read more

March 4, 2007: Tate Family

This week, the team (Ty, Preston, Tracy, Eduardo and myself) headed to sunny Florida. The Tate family is so awesome. They are an all-American family. Dad (Tom) owns a local pizza shop with his brothers. Mom (Cynthia) is part-owner of a local salon, and the kids (Ryan, Tommy and Loren) are great students and very active in their community. They were doing everything right —- local business owners, very involved in their community, loved by everyone, making ends meet — and one day it all changed. Last summer, while Mom was home alone, a plane in distress during a storm crashed into their home. Immediately, their house was engulfed in flames. Mom made it out alive. The pilot was not as fortunate. The family had refinanced their home six months before this tragedy and, unfortunately, their home insurance paperwork was incorrect and they were dropped from their policy of 14 years. They were unaware of this fact until after the accident, as they tried to rebuild. They didn't hav... read more

February 18, 2007: The O'Donnell Family

How can you go wrong? A beautiful city, a beautiful family, a great team — it was truly an enjoyable week. Ty was joined by Eduardo, Tanya, Paul and me. We headed to a town that is rich in history, flavor and music, making us appreciate being on the road. And we met a beautiful and amazing family.The O'Donnell family has six children, five of whom have some form of autism. You would think that this family would complain or feel angry at the situation in some way, yet they feel like they are blessed and the most fortunate people in the world. The mother of this family shows each child love, care, affection and attention while at the same time being a good wife and helping out at the local school. She believes that each child is a special gift and a blessing. After spending just a moment with this family, you realize that she is right. Each child is so special in his or her way, and makes your heart melt until you are in love with each and every one of them. They all have special... read more

January 14, 2007, Episode: The Noyola Family

Good morning, Noyola family! Every time we roll into a new city, we are filled with nervous anticipation to meet the next family. That morning bus ride is always an exciting time for us designers. It’s our first look into the lives of the families we are about to meet — our first time to formulate what we plan to do for them over the next seven days. It is our first chance to learn about them and their story, and — my favorite part — the first chance to help make a difference in the lives of people who need it most. You never know what the family story will hold. Many times we are met with tears. This family, the Noyolas, however, only elicits smiles from all of us as we near the house. The Noyolas are a wonderful family that has overcome tough times and has grown into the type of family that all of us would love to know. Dad had a tough past, and Mom stayed by his side over the years. They both made a conscious decision to turn their lives around and be the very... read more

Extreme Makeover Helps the Big Easy

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Ty Pennington talks New Orleans musician Irvin Mayfield.

Stunned silence doesn't play especially well on reality TV, but then reality TV hasn't encountered anything quite like New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Archille "Chile" O'Neal, a blues musician from storm-struck St. Bernard's Parish who lost all of his instruments, was moved beyond words when Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Paul DiMeo — the carpenter with the Buddy Holly eyewear — surprised him with a pickup truck full of gleaming Gibson and Hohner guitars. As he clicked open case after case, O'Neal just shook his head in glorious disbelief. "You realize these are for you, Chile?" a producer asked off camera. "All these are yours to keep." DiMeo slung his arm around O'Neal's shoulder and smiled warmly, as the producer asked them to redo the moment. On Take 2, they got exactly the Extreme reaction ABC needed: hoots, hollers and an unholy scream of "Oh, my god!" As its popularity co read more

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