Special Reports

'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition:' Williams family thanks community for support

Jeremy Williams has a promise to fulfill.

When he and his family were applying for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the Greenville High School football coach told his team that if the ABC reality series built him a home, he’d host a barbecue.

As the Williams family stood in front of their new 3,700-square-foot house on Sunday, they knew they’d be grilling soon.

“I imagine his boys are not going to let much time pass before we have to have our barbecue,” said Jeremy’s wife, Jennifer.

Of course, since “Extreme Makeover” policies currently prevent the family from describing their home’s interior, the big parties might have to wait until their episode airs.

The show will be the season finale, but an air date hasn’t been set. After filming, it takes about six to eight weeks to have the episode ready, according to a spokesperson for the project.

About 24 hours after spectators shouted “move that bus,” the four-member Williams family participated in a news conference at their Pine Mountain Valley home.

“Our family is just very humbled ... to receive the love from people we don’t know, from friends and family. That is amazing,” Jeremy Williams said on Sunday.

He has 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.

The couple has two children: Josie, 8, and Jacob, 6. Jacob has spina bifida and is confined to a wheelchair.

The Williams family vacationed at the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colo., in the days before their home was revealed.

More than 2,700 volunteers registered to help with the project, according to Andy Miller, president of Nationwide Custom Homes.

The Virginia-based company worked on the project with its parent company, Palm Harbor Homes, plus local builders and community volunteers.

Local generosity toward the Williams family extended beyond the home’s construction.

A variety of entities have given donations to the family. CVS/pharmacy helped erase their medical debt, Jennifer Williams said on Sunday.

Representatives from Columbus State University presented full four-year undergraduate tuition scholarships to Jacob and Josie on Sunday.

In addition to surprises from businesses like Realtree and Callaway Gardens, Leslie Ostrander, a friend of the family, talked about how her connection to Columbus Shingle, Vinyl & Aluminum initiated a chain of generosity that ultimately included the anonymous donation of a handicap-equipped van.

“A single ‘yes’ started a whole chain of events,” Ostrander said.

For Jennifer Williams, the whole experience is still surreal. She said she still hasn’t gotten a full grasp of exactly what’s inside her new house.

“I imagine it will take quite some time,” she said.

Saturday’s big reveal, when a crowd of about 1,000 people cheered as the Williams family saw their new home, seemed like something usually confined to fairy tales.

“It was just a dream come true,” Jennifer Williams said.

What does she hope national viewers will learn from her family’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” episode?

“I want people to see how generous the human spirit is,” she said. “We have always thought our community was awesome, and now everybody is going to know how awesome our community is.”

Sonya Sorich, 706-571-8516.

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