‘I’m just an everyday person’ says Extreme Makeover mom

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 23, 2009

LEXINGTON ó Davidson County has always had its share of great personalities, folks such as Bob Timberlake and Sheriff Gerald Hege
But for the past week, its biggest celebrity has been a little bit of a teacher named Tricia Creasey.
She protested Wednesday afternoon that she doesn’t feel like someone famous.
“I’m just an everyday person,” she said in the driveway of the house her community had built for her family, thanks to its selection for an “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” episode.
“It’s kind of hard to be in the spotlight all the time.”
Before the Creasey family could finally settle in for a first night in its new home Wednesday, the show arranged for one last media interview and a parade of people who had more gifts for them.
Each driveway presentation took about a minute and involved some choking back of tears.
Catawba College and Davidson County Community College combined to offer the three Creasey children ó Brittany, 12, and 5-year-old twins Makenzie and Makayla ó free tuition when they are of college age.
Lexington Federal Credit Union said it had established college savings accounts for the girls at $2,500 each.
Lowe’s Foods gave the family a year’s worth of free groceries; Wilco-Hess, a year’s supply of free gasoline.
Time Warner Cable delivered new televisions and laptop computers and free service for a year. The Greensboro Coliseum presented five tickets to its next Miley Cyrus concert.
I think the concert is this coming Sunday.
Cricket had three telephones and a year’s worth of unlimited service for the Creaseys.The Ryan Newman Foundation offered up a free cat or dog, spaying or neutering and a year’s worth of food.
Center Street Pharmacy gave the family gift certificates worth $2,000.
Dressed in pink and wearing hideous false teeth, the Sunshine Sisters handed over $338.88 they had collected while entertaining the crowd at the house’s “reveal” Tuesday afternoon.
The N.C. Zoo came through with a lifetime membership.
Grady Hedrick, a neighbor, said he would give the family a one-year maintenance contract and plenty of free advice on their newly sod, beautifully landscaped yard.
“You’ll have to show me how to take care of the flowers,” Tricia said.
“She kills flowers,” Brittany explained.
The Creaseys also received a bright orange lawn tractor from Sink Farm Equipment; free use of a truck, storage and moving expenses (much of their old stuff was packed away) from Two Men and a Truck; and a scrapbook full of photographs documenting the whirlwind construction of their home.
That’s not all. Jason Hedrick, owner of Hedrick Creative Building, said donations are still coming in.
“We will have a large monetary donation to set up a trust fund to take care of the house and kids,” said Hedrick, who oversaw the home’s construction. “It’s not from us, it’s from the community. It was a beautiful thing and a great experience, and I loved being a part of it.”
Tricia teaches seventh grade at E. Lawson Brown Middle School in Thomasville. She has been fighting colorectal cancer for three-and-a-half years through chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries.
To get through the experience of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and the vacation the family was sent on to Disney World, Tricia skipped her scheduled chemotherapy. She said she was surprised that she was able to keep up with the rest of the family in Florida, which included an overnight stay in Cinderella’s Castle.
This Friday, she will have a new scan, showing the status of her cancer.
William looked up at the sky and crossed his fingers.
“Pray for her,” Brittany said.
Tricia plans to return to work Monday. Ironically, she will be moving into a new classroom that day. For the past three years ó the same period she has fought her disease ó she has been teaching from a small trailer.
Details secret
The show, which will be aired in February 2010, has forbidden the family from giving a lot of details about the inside of their new home.
Tricia revealed Wednesday that the designers built a dining table from planks saved from the old house. Her favorite thing, she added, was the living room fireplace, which she described as “incredibly beautiful.”
“If I could choose to build a home, this is what it would look like,” Tricia said. At the press conference, the family invited Hedrick to a private dinner at their home.
“All the rooms are amazing, and we can’t wait to share that with the community,” Tricia added. “We’re going to find a way to share that with everyone.”
William said the house “is us,” and they can’t wait to start living in it, begin new memories and make it the place where Tricia recovers.
The Creaseys’ former 1930s-era house was tiny and drafty, with every room connecting to the other. To reach the lone bathroom, family members had to go through the master bedroom, and it was always difficult for Tricia to rest when she was trying to deal with her latest chemo treatment.
Three fellow teachers and Chris and Denise Gallimore nominated the Creaseys for the “Extreme Makeover” show. The family was in the running with four other nominees in the Triad.
The days leading up to her family’s being chosen were stressful and exhausting for Tricia, Brown Middle School Principal Randy Holmes said Tuesday.
“The anticipation of all this was an enemy,” he said.
Teacher friends
Holmes and Tricia’s three teacher friends ó Christy Slate, Christy Sarver and Crystal Sexton ódid a lot of interviews for the show. The teachers also worked on the back-yard playground and had a sneak peek inside the house.
“She is well taken care of,” Sarver said of her teacher friend.
Tricia tries to be a trooper in front of her students, her colleagues reported.
“It’s very difficult,” Sexton said, “because she’s tired when she comes back (from her regular chemo treatments).”
Tricia said Wednesday that being a teacher “means the world to me,” and she was overwhelmed to see her students in the crowd Tuesday.
As for Davidson County and beyond, Tricia said her family knew long before “Extreme Makeover” that they lived in a loving community. To everyone, they say thanks and thanks again.
It’s still hard to put into words, Tricia said.
Davidson County, your Cinderella has a new castle.