Extreme Makover rolls into Lexington

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
LEXINGTON ó There’s nothing too spontaneous about watching a popular TV reality show orchestrate a whole day filming its final scenes.
Ask the hundreds of builders, volunteers, media and spectators who stood for hours in designated spots or behind barricades while “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” film crews put them through rehearsals or staged various shots.
But one thing ó the most important thing ó was spontaneous for Tricia and William Creasey and their three daughters Tuesday afternoon.
The first look at their new house.
To the crowd’s roars of “Move that bus!” the show’s signature vehicle roared away to reveal a rustic, two-story home that is almost triple the size of the house they left last week.
It overwhelmed the young family, which had been exiled to a Disney World vacation while regional contractors and their crews joined other community volunteers to demolish the Creaseys’ old home and build and furnish a 3,100-square-foot replacement in 106 hours.
The experience for local builders definitely was “controlled chaos,” said Jeff Hopkins, a superintendent for Makson Plumbing & Construction of Salisbury. Hedrick Creative Building of Lexington led the project.
“Some times were better than others because you were elbow-to-elbow,” Hopkins said. “But it’s for a good cause ó that’s the biggest thing for me and this meant a lot to David (Eller, president of Makson) as well.”
Tricia Creasey, a 37-year-old middle school teacher, was diagnosed three years ago with colorectal cancer. She has fought the disease through chemotherapy, radiation and three surgeries, but it returned and spread to her lymph nodes earlier this year.
Now she’s undergoing weekly or bi-weekly chemotherapy treatments that cost the couple $1,400 a month after insurance. They bought a 1930s home years ago as a fixer-upper and starter house, but it fell into disrepair as the family focused on her illness.
After the bus moved, “Extreme Makeover” host Ty Pennington led the family up the new driveway toward the house. Builders cheered them along the way. No media interviews were allowed with the family Tuesday, but a press conference with the Creaseys was scheduled for this afternoon.
The family, which includes 12-year-old Brittany and 5-year-old twins Makenzie and Makayla, had to wait outside the new home for several minutes while camera crews positioned themselves inside to get their reactions. As soon as the family members entered the house and closed the door behind them, the day was over for everyone outside, who then faced long waits to catch shuttles back to the old Wal-Mart parking lot miles away.
During the day, spectators extended down Allred Road for about a quarter-mile and were three and four people deep. Columns of people also lined the sides to the home.
Amidst the boisterous throng were about 75 seventh-grade students of Tricia Creasey, who wears a combination hat/bandanna because of her hair loss.
“We’ve been really pepped up and emotional,” said Trisha Hicks, one of those seventh-graders from E. Lawson Brown Middle School in Thomasville. “We’re all really happy for her.”
The students said they miss Creasey when she is absent from school Thursdays and Fridays every other week to have chemotherapy.
“She’s nice and fun,” student Jessica Ziebell said. “… I hope she gets everything she wants in this house, and I hope she gets better.”
Principal Randy Holmes said Creasey, who has been teaching science, math and social studies at the school for about 14 years, is the consummate educator who loves the job and her students.
“I get all boiled up thinking about it,” Holmes said about an hour before the “reveal.”
“Her tough part is still ahead of her, but if anybody can, Tricia can.”
The Brown Middle School students ó part of the Dolphin team ó were allowed to leave school early, and their visit to the site was considered a field trip, Holmes said. The students learned a lot about community over the past week, he added.
William Creasey, 40, works in the IT department for Guilford County Schools.
DJ Keith Henderson played music as the crowd waited for the grand unveiling. Most spectators received CVS gift cards, and show designers Paul DiMeo and Tracy Hutson mingled roamed throughout the site all day before spending time with the Creaseys.
Folk singer Jewel and her husband, cowboy star Ty Murray, were the celebrity guests for the show, and they met the Creaseys minutes before the reveal.
They also helped moved some furniture into the house in the morning.
“It’s amazing to watch the process and how fast they do it,” Murray said. “It’s not a movie set.”
ABC is expected to air this episode about the Creaseys “in the early months of 2010,” the show’s producers said. It is the 165th house “Extreme Makeover” has done.