Extreme Makeover picks Moorhead family
By this time next week, if all goes well, the Bill and Adair Grommesh family of Moorhead will be in a new home - at the same address.
The Grommeshes were "ambushed" Sunday morning at a Fargo ice arena by ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and told that they would be the recipients of a new, handicap-accessible home.
"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it was happening. Very intense. Very exciting," Bill Grommesh said of the announcement by the "Extreme Makeover" cast at Southwest Ice Arena.
"It's still not really sinking in. We still feel like we're part of this dream. We don't want the dream to end. We feel so blessed," Adair Grommesh said.
The announcement came after a sled hockey scrimmage for Hope Inc., a nonprofit managed by the Grommeshes that provides sports and other activities for children and young adults with disabilities.
"I thought that was the best way to choose our family because Hope is just such a big part of our life, and these families are so important to us, so I thought that was wonderful that it was done that way. I thought that was absolutely beautiful," Adair Grommesh said.
"To have a fully accessible house for (her son, Garrett), it's a dream come true, it really is," she added, the words nearly bringing tears.
The family's modest single-story home, at 803 22nd Ave. S., is now ground zero for what promises to be a major construction blitz, surrounded by television trucks and a growing legion of construction rigs.
The Grommeshes have two children, 10-year-old Garrett, who was born with spina bifida and must use a wheelchair to get around. His 11-year-old sister, Peighton, has a pancreatic enzyme deficiency known as Axenfeld-Reiger's syndrome.
"Words cannot describe what I'm thinking right now. Words cannot describe what I'm feeling right now," Garrett said.
He declined to say what changes he asked for from the show's celebrity designers Ty Pennington and Paul DiMeo. Sticking with the safe: "Gotta watch and wait and see."
But he looks forward to a home he can navigate.
"I really need a house that is accessible. This is going to make a real impact on me," he said.
Moving trucks were on the street in front of the family's home as daylight was fading. Their belongings were moved out Sunday night, and they will be sent on vacation to the Bahamas.
Garrett's voice went up an octave when he was asked their destination.
"The Bahamas!" he said, breaking into an ear-to-ear grin.
It will be their first major vacation as a family.
"It's a little unnerving, yeah, but it's exciting because we know we're going somewhere warm. And we're going to be well taken care of. So it's exciting," Adair Grommesh said.
The access road on the west side of their home was packed with television production vans, and surrounding streets for blocks around were posted for no parking as work crews and equipment were staged to handle the 4,000 volunteers who will help build a new home on the site.
Throughout the day, crews filmed the family at their home for the show.
Scores of people looked on from the west side of Eighth Street, while neighbors and friends watched from the fringes of the television production area, shooed to different areas depending on what camera angles were needed.
On Eighth Street South, a major arterial road, cars slowed drastically, sometimes producing a squeal of tires and brakes, as drivers tried to glance at the hubbub around the Grommesh home.
Roads around the home were blocked off for two to three blocks, and every intersection had one or two Moorhead police or "Extreme Makeover" security guards keeping sightseers away.
Plans are to move the house, rather than demolish it, if possible, said representatives of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and lead builder Heritage Homes of Fargo.
Daryl Braham and Tyrone Leslie, the owners of Heritage Homes, said serious work on that would become visible about 3 a.m. today.
"It's going to be very fun," Leslie said.
"Today was truly an honor for all of us in our company," Braham said Sunday. "This is something for the community. We're just blessed to be here."
Paul DiMeo, one of the show's designer co-stars, said the Grommeshes' story is powerful.
"I think the biggest part of this build is the story, telling the Grommeshes' story," DiMeo said. "Telling the story of how a kid, though he's bound to a wheelchair, his spirit soars, and I think that's a story that's gonna make other kids see, to realize, 'We can push through.' "
"Even though we're within the bounds of this wheelchair, there's still a world out there to be explored," DiMeo said.
Jeff Slaby lives just to the north of the Grommeshes across 22nd Avenue South.
"They're really a great family. They're a tightknit family. They've got a lot of challenges of their own, but they're out in the community helping everybody out. They're working with other handicapped youth to try to provide them with athletic experiences they normally wouldn't get. They're constantly giving back. It's great to see them getting something for themselves because they're so giving," Slaby said.
At one point, Ty Pennington zipped by some of the crowd, perched on a four-wheeler talking on a cell phone and waving as a cheer rose up from onlookers.
"It's in good hands," Braham told Adair Grommesh. "You're going to have a whole new life when you come back."
Kara Lee, 12, is on Peighton's volleyball team.
"(She's) really excited," Kara said of her friend before remarking on the frenzy brought on by a touch of Hollywood.
"It's kind of overwhelming. I just didn't imagine it would be all this work," Lee said.
"I'm so happy for her (Peighton). Her family does deserve it," added Savannah Tenderholt, who played softball with her.
Volunteering for the show was relatively easy Sunday.
When volunteers were needed for a shot of the family entering a limousine, "Extreme Makeover" crew members walked up to spectators with a stack of blue shirts, asking for 18 people over the age of 18 to step out of the crowd and step in front of the camera.
The Forum and the Echo Press are Forum Communications Company newspapers.