'Extreme Makeover' support builds

'Extreme Makeover' support builds

February 4th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in News

It was standing room only at "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's" pep rally Thursday night, where several involved in the project thanked a crowd brought to laughter, cheers and even tears by the outpouring of support.

About 4,300 people already have signed up to help the show give one lucky local family their dream house, and those numbers swelled Thursday night when 300 volunteers and people looking to sign up rallied to join the project.

"It has been overwhelming, the amount of support we've had and the number of people standing with us," said Craig Smith, one of the project's lead builders and co-owner of Vision Homes. "It's hard not to get choked up a bit."

Smith said that when asked to do the 24-hour, round-the-clock, seven-day project, he and co-owner Jason Willard immediately said yes.

Since then, they've heard nothing but yes back from Chattanooga.

"We started asking our community and suppliers, and it was an immediate yes," Willard told the crowd. "We're excited, we're fired up, we're ready to go, and I hope you're ready to go because we need your help to get this done."

Though Chattanoogans have shown plenty of enthusiasm, skilled laborers such as electricians, floor installers and plumbers are still needed, as are general laborers to work the late-night shifts from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

But that need soon could be filled. Several attending the rally said they were still hoping to sign up.

William Cotton, a senior at Brainerd High School, said he and his friends wanted to get involved as soon as they heard about the project.

"We were like, 'Sure, we'll help,'" he said. "We just want to help out our community, make it stronger, make our kids stronger."

Show producer Milan Vasic said it was this attitude that attracted the show to Chattanooga.

"To see thousands of people coming together to help someone they don't even know, most of them, it's amazing," he said. "At the end of the day, 'Extreme Home Makeover' is looking for people who make a difference in their community, and I think we've found that here."