Extreme Home Makeover - The Hawkins Family

Extreme Makeover - Tennessee Style

Welcome "Home" Hawkins Family
What do you think of when you hear the word hero? Webster's definition of hero is one who shows great courage. Amy Hawkins is a hero in every sense of the word.

In April a devastating F3 tornado ripped trough Hendersonville destroying the place that the Hawkins family called home. Jerrod who is a firefighter in Brentwood was at work when the tornado hit and could only watch the storm from his fire station as the tornado completely destroyed the Hawkins home, ripping it from it's foundation.

Amy knowing she had to protect her sons Jair age 6 and Cole age 3 laid her body on top of theirs to shield them from the storm. Amy's vertebrae and ribs were crushed, her lungs punctured and she received serious head trauma. Amy is paralyzed from the waist down and is now confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

You would think that an event like this would tend to damper the spirits of a person. Not Amy who is bound and determined to walk again against odds given to her by the doctors. Amy had been separated from her family for 3 months while she underwent extensive rehab therapy at a spinal cord injury center in Atlanta and just recently returned to Hendersonville.

When asked about what had happened Jair, age 6, told reporters "The house blowed down, and now mom's a hero." The community, identifying with Amy's story of sacrifice and heroism, collected over 50,000 names from across the country, nominating the Hawkins family for a visit from Extreme Makeover Home Edition.
This made the Hawkins family the most-nominated candidate family in the program's history.

Early on the morning of July 28th the Hawkins family was awakened at their rental home by the familiar sound of Ty Pennington's voice through his bullhorn "Gooooood morning Hawkins family."

After meeting the design team of Ty Pennington, Ed Sanders, Paul DiMeo, Preston Sharp and Tracy Hutson the family was whisked away to Walt Disney World for an all expense paid vacation while Ty, the other designers, David Luecke, founder and President of Capital Homes and volunteers built the Hawkins family an "extreme" home.

The show usually begins with Ty and the crew surveying the home where the family lives to get an idea of their lifestyle. This wasn't something that could be done with the Hawkins family. The only thing left was a corner of their basement.

Starting on Sunday morning and continuing through the week, spectators were shuttled by bus from the Target parking lot to watch as the Hawkins new home was built from ground up in a record breaking time of 94 hours start to finish.

Hendersonville also broke the Extreme Makeover record for number of volunteers for one show with over 2050 volunteers over the 4-day process. It was truly an incredible process to watch as the volunteers worked like a well-oiled machine.

Some VIP's stopped by during the week to tour the house. Seen on the construction site were The Oak Ridge Boys, Crystal Gale, and Cowboy Troy. Wednesday night a benefit concert was held at the Grand Ole Opry with Alan Jackson who belted out a few songs.

We had the chance to talk to designer Paul DiMeo about this build and the family. Paul told us about Amy "she acted as any mother would do and you just do what you have to and through bravery she is okay with what happened." The biggest challenge the designers and crew are facing is the weather. When asked Paul said "you just gota suck up the heat."

We also had the chance to talk with Ed Sanders who told us, "One reason this is so special is because this is so fresh" in regards to the when the tornado ripped through the Hawkins life.

There were two things that really stuck out in the design's team head when it came to this build, one being the overwhelming response of volunteers and community support and the other being Amy Hawkins spirit that has never been broken. If asked Amy would do it all over again if she had to.

Friday morning found people in Target's parking lot that had camped out over night just to be able to get a ride on the bus to the Hawkins new home so they could be there when the family was brought home. I spoke to a few people who had been in the parking lot since 2 a.m. The lines continued to grow as the buses shuttled anxious and excited spectators to the house.

The Brentwood fire department color guard paraded the colors as 3 volunteers from the crowd sang the Star Spangled Banner while a flag was raised in the front yard of the Hawkins new home. Workers worked feverishly to get the last few minor details finished which included putting a small American flag that was stuck in the ground outside the original house on top of a fort that was built for Jair and Cole using logs from trees that were removed from the original site.

Not even the rain could damper the spirits of the spectators as they anxiously awaited the Hawkins family to come home. Finally around 2:45 the bus came up over the hill, which carried the members of the Hawkins family. Cole and Jair were the first two off the bus followed by their father and then their mother Amy.

On hand to greet them as they got off the bus were both Amy and Jerrod's mothers. The wait seemed endless as everyone waited for those famous words "Bus driver move that bus." The bus pulled forward to reveal to the Hawkins family for the first time their brand new home. Cheers from the crowd and applause was heard as the family looked at their new house in awe.

Amy shed some tears not believing what she was seeing. Jerrod pushed Amy's wheelchair up the driveway toward the new house. He stopped and turned Amy's chair to face the crowd and volunteers one more time. Amy once again started to cry in thanks and appreciation.

After one last wave the Hawkins's family entered their new home. This family was very deserving of this new home and it was an honor just to be part of the whole event. Be sure to tune into ABC on November 5th, as the show will air the night before the CMA's. Welcome home Jerrod, Amy, Jair and Cole!!

Extreme Makeover Tennessee Build Timeline

-By sunset on Sunday, the site was prepped

-By sunrise Monday, July 31st, the foundation was poured and pool area prepped

-By sunset on Monday the house was framed and fiberglass pool installed

-By midnight on Monday, infrastructure systems were roughed in (electrical, plumbing, heating/air, etc) and roofing was completed; doors and windows installed

-By sunrise on Tuesday, August 1st, drywall was hung and dressed

-By midday on Tuesday, the bricking was finished

-By sunset on Tuesday, interior walls were sanded and primed and ready to paint

-By sunrise on Wednesday, August 2nd, the driveway was poured, front yard trees planted, and the pool decking poured

-By midday on Wednesday, base coat paint was complete, flooring, cabinet, tile and fixture installation began

-By midnight on Wednesday, flooring was near completion; cabinet, tile and fixture installation was largely complete; yard grading for landscaping and interior trim woodwork began Sunday noon, July 30th: Ground was broken

-By sunrise on Thursday, August 3rd, lighting fixtures, gutters, and electrical trip was largely complete; yard grading was near completion, as the interior trim work

-By midday on Thursday, the interior of the Hawkins home was substantially complete, and Capital Homes turned the house keys over to Extreme Makeover design team for furnishing and embellishment. Work on landscaping and back yard features continued into Thursday evening

-By sunrise on Friday, all exterior work was substantially complete, and the Hawkins home was ready to present to Jerrod, Amy, Jair and Cole.

Article Written & Submitted by Nora Mayor