Local ‘Extreme’ episode airs

Published 9:09 am Monday, December 8, 2008

About two months after “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television crews came to rural Hayward to surprise the Dirk and Susan DeVries family with a home makeover, the ABC network aired the local episode Sunday to the delight of many area residents.

Gathered at Diamond Jo Casino to watch the premiere and to celebrate the makeover were volunteers, family and friends of the DeVries family — and of course the DeVries themselves.

It was the first time the family got to see the whole process behind the makeover — from when TV show host Ty Pennington and his design team knocked on their door, when their old house was demolished and when their new house was built.

Email newsletter signup

“How they put that all together was unbelievable,” Dirk said after watching the show.

“Extreme Makeover” producers knocked on the door of the DeVries family on Sept. 30. The next day the family was sent on a vacation to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Larson Contracting and volunteer workers demolished their house Oct. 2 and began building a new home in about 100 hours.

The house was finished on Oct. 5, and the keys to the new house were handed over Oct. 6. On Oct. 7 — the big day — the rain-soaked crowd of onlookers yelled, “Move that bus!” while the DeVrieses stood wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the surprise of seeing their new house.

The show on Sunday started with pieces of the family’s video application and an explanation of all that Susan gives to the community, despite living with a rare heart condition.

It showed the mother in her music classroom at Hollandale Christian School teaching with homemade instruments and explained that she is also the first-grade reading specialist there and even the bus driver.

The family’s youngest daughter, Hanna, expressed a fear of losing her mother and described Susan as her best friend and role model.

The show had moments that brought some to tears and other moments that caused others to laugh out loud.

Susan said she was pleased with how the show gave much of the glory to God.

Before the show aired, the family thanked the audience and all of the volunteers who helped to make the makeover possible.

“Every day we live in solid evidence of how other people can be God’s hands,” Susan said. There are not enough words to say thank you enough.

“We feel so unworthy when we see these other families on these shows … ” she said. “We’re not sure why we were chosen.”

Susan described the family’s new home as safe and beautiful.

Dirk thanked Betty Nienoord and Beverly Draayer, the two women who encouraged the family to apply for the makeover. He said if it wasn’t for them, they wouldn’t be standing there watching the premiere.

Dirk quoted a verse from the Bible that explained where much is given, much is expected. He hopes his family can live up to that and continue to give as much as they can, he said.

They presented Al Larson, owner of Larson Contracting, with a butterfly stone painted by Susan that matches the stone placed in front of their house.

Larson said though he was a little nervous going into the makeover, he feels fortunate he was able to give. The whole week sent by in the blink of an eye.

He said people ask him if he thinks the show touched the lives of the DeVries, but in reality it touched the hearts of many more — 3,000 people who built, volunteered or watched the house being built.

“Hopefully we’ve touched enough people that the giving and caring will go on,” Larson said.

The crowd made a toast to the DeVries.