'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" to build home for Greenville High football coach's family in Pine Mountain Valley

Greenville High football coach inspires while battling illness

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 22, 2010 

Joe Paull jpaull@ledger-enquirer.com The newly renovated field house in named after Jeremy Williams.

Greenville High School football coach Jeremy Williams and his family are just days away from hearing three life-changing words: “Move that bus!”

It’s the token phrase on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the ABC reality series on which the Pine Mountain Valley family was selected to appear.

They were surprised on Sunday with news that crews will build them a new home while they vacation at the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colo.

Two of the family’s four members have disabilities: father Jeremy and son Jacob.

Jeremy Williams, 38, suffers from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The fatal condition affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

It’s incurable and impacts behaviors like speech, swallowing and breathing.

Williams, who played football at Kendrick High in Columbus, led the Greenville High Patriots to an undefeated record and a playoff victory last year before having the season ended by eventual state champion Wilcox County.

“When he was at Kendrick, he was just an outstanding person and an outstanding leader. All that has carried over through his coaching,” longtime local coach Chris Church said Sunday.

Church coached Kendrick football for 20 years and saw Williams in the early stages of his football career.

“You want your kids to turn out like Jeremy Williams,” he said.

Dell McGee, who played football with Williams at Kendrick and is now head coach at Carver High, added, “He’s definitely a Christian role model for a lot of people.”

Williams has a 6-year-old son, Jacob, who was born with spina bifida, an incomplete development of the spinal cord. The boy requires a wheelchair and treatments include surgery.

The family also includes wife Jennifer, 38, and daughter Josie, 8.

“I don’t think there could be a better deserving family to get something this great,” said Blair Harrison, head football coach at Brookstone in Columbus, who’s known Jeremy Williams for about five years. “I would just hope that whatever construction is done enables the family not to worry about their living conditions at all.”

Their old home had problems like a cracked and sinking foundation and mold-infected walls, according to a statement released by the show Sunday. Also, its small size wasn’t conducive to people with disabilities.

The “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team, along with community volunteers and local builders with Nationwide Homes and Palm Harbor Homes, will build the family an energy-efficient home this week.

Crews are scheduled to reveal the new home — complete with cheers to “move that bus!” — on Saturday.

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