Minnetonka ‘Extreme’ family visits

Published 9:26 am Monday, October 6, 2008

A little more than a year ago, they were in the same shoes as the DeVries family.

A recipient of a home makeover in August of 2007 as part of the ABC TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the Swenson-Lee family of Minnetonka knows the anticipation that comes with getting a new start in life.

They know what it’s like being away on vacation as their old, familiar house is torn down, and a new one is put up in its place. They know the excitement that comes the day the bus is moved and their new home is unveiled before their house.

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But this time, they wanted to see it from the other side.

Taking the opportunity to visit the site of the new DeVries home Sunday, the Swenson-Lee family said after they watched the workers building the DeVries home they realized there’s a lot more that goes on with the construction of a new house than they originally thought.

“It’s just an amazing experience to watch,” mother, Vicki Swenson, said. “It’s crazy to see what goes on this week.

“Being a recipient of the house is one thing, but we were gone during that weeklong build, so it was really fun for us to come down and see the community just rally around this family and build a new house.”

The Swenson-Lee family’s makeover took place after father Erik Swenson, mother Vicki and their three children, opened the doors to the four children of Vicki’s late sister, Teri Lee, who was murdered by an abusive ex-boyfriend.

They received a home that was 5,600 square feet with seven bedrooms and five baths.

“The experience of getting a house is so life-changing,” Vicki said, noting that it gave her family hope and the physical space to heal from the horrible tragedy of her sister’s death.

She said she thinks the DeVries family will be excited to see their new home.

“You can’t help but be excited when you hear thousands of people cheering for you and know that they’re here to support you,” Vicki said. “It’s an overwhelming experience.

“When all the cameras are gone and everyone leaves, you are reminded every day of all the love that went into building that house.”

Being at the site of the new DeVries home Sunday brought back many memories for her, she said.

“I just get goosebumps thinking about the family coming home,” she said.

Her words to the DeVries: “Welcome home and enjoy. Just soak it all up.”