October 15, 2006 Episode: The Blivens
This week I found myself just 30 miles away from the Canadian border in beautiful Minot, N.D. I love small towns and great communities with people who all know one another and will do anything to help a neighbor in need. That was truly the story with this wonderful family, the Blivens.
The Blivens are as loving, sharing and close a group as I've ever had the pleasure of meeting: Bill, Michelle, Kristen, Aaron, and Taylor. Aaron was born with a disease called Cerebral Palsy and this family has worked so hard to make Aaron's life as ordinary as any other 14-year-old's. Michelle even managed to start and run a great organization called Dream Catchers. Imagine that. This woman, who has to care for, feed, bathe and raise this remarkable young man, managed to find time to start a program for other children with similar limitations to be able to enjoy our national pastime - baseball!
Let me explain Dream Catchers. They are a baseball league specifically for kids with disabilities who need a helping hand to safely play the sport. Michelle started Dream Catchers because she wanted every kid to have the same opportunity to do what the kid next door does. So if the kid next door is playing baseball, she wants to make sure that Aaron can play ball, too. Dream Catchers is exactly what is says it is: kids catching their dreams.
One Dream Catcher I met was a little girl by the name of Gracie - we just hit it off, she's an angel. Together we were able to run the bases and it just made my week. When those kids are on the field, that's their field, that's their time. Babe Ruth, Hornace Wagner, Hank Aaron... that's who you're looking at out there. We were cheering for the World Series teams, while these kids were just having the time of their lives.
The build went great. Thanks to our wonderful builders Ty Leslie and Daryl Braham of Heritage Homes. These guys just turned out a great home. They are based out of Fargo, more than four hours away! They were doing this for their fellow North Dakotans. This build went a little differently from our usual demo and rebuild. The Blivens had a great little house; it just wasn't working for this family. We literally jacked the house up off the foundation and drove it down the street to give away to another family.
I'm very happy to be working on Aaron's room this week. It was tough because of his special needs, but I think I was able to ease some of the challenges, you know, and still have it be a fun 14-year-old kid's room. One of the things I wanted to make sure of was that his room was not a hospital room. That it wasn't this sterile-looking room with all this technology in it. I think I was able to accomplish that by incorporating a few of Aaron's favorite things.
While researching Aaron's room, I stumbled upon the local rodeo. I had never been to one before. It was amazing. All the sights, sounds, and smellsquite unique to a rodeo. I had a great time collecting authentic items, meeting real cowboys and cowgirls, and they even let me announce! I did end up buying a cowboy hat, but you won't be seeing me with it on anytime soon!
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
airs Sundays at 8 pm/ET.