Soldier's Family Helped by "Extreme Makeover"

The Sherman Heathcock family of Hattiesburg is getting a brand new home with the help of Extreme Makeover's designers and local volunteers. Heathcock is currently serving his second tour in Iraq with the Mississippi National Guard.

The Heathcock house was damaged during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The family has been dealing with issues ever since.

Three Meridian businesses are also helping out. Extreme Makeover designers say they are ready to tackle this project.

"We have always found ourselves face to face with problems," said Johnny Littlefield, Extreme Makeover designer. "You do that when you build a house in less than 105 hours. But you know what? We've never failed because failure is not an option."

On Thursday the Heathcock family heard a knock on the door followed by the bullhorn "Good Morning" greeting from Extreme Makeover host Ty Pennington. Soon after, nearly 400 people who are volunteering their time to help build the family a new home marched the street to the house. One of those volunteers is the mayor of Hattiesburg.

"Everybody knows that Mississippi gives more than anybody else," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree. "Hattiesburg gives more than anybody in Mississippi. This is our opportunity to show the citizens of Hattiesburg and even the nation that this is the way to do."

"This is a marvelous opportunity for this community to get together and show the nation what we can do," said volunteer Nancy Carpenter. "It's an opportunity that I think is going to be as much a blessing for those of us who are building the house as it is for ones who are receiving it."

Local builders will help construct the new house.

"We are going to build a house in one week's time. What normally would take a month for a builder to do, we do in a day," said David Thompson of AAA Homes of Mississippi.

While the work is being done, the Heathcock family is taking a trip to Disney World. While they're at the Magic Kingdom, the volunteers will make their make their own magic happen here at home.

The show has been a hit in the ratings, winning two Emmys, and has made a difference in communities. It has built more than 160 houses, using more than 71,000 volunteers in the process.

In part two Saturday, Newscenter 11 will introduce you to the family.


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