Local family gets new house, life makeover

Nathan Maas

Nathan Maas

More than 3,000 friends and neighbors welcomed the Thibodeau family of Toronto, into their new home, Wednesday, Sept. 13, after the family was chosen to be part of the popular ABC television program “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

ABC placed an ad in a newspaper, stating the show was coming to South Dakota. They received hundreds of letters concerning the Thibodeau family and, as a result, the family was nominated to receive a complete home makeover.

Twelve-year-old Siehera Thibodeau has undergone multiple heart surgeries due to a hole in her heart she has had since birth.

Siehera and her family were flown to New York City for an all-expense paid vacation, where she got to see her favorite band, Green Day, while the home was being reconstructed.

Signature Homes, located in Sioux Falls, supported the project by donating labor, supplies and time. The company logo for the project was two hammers, with the claws forming the top of a red heart- “For One Brave Heart.”

According to Michelle Harvey Erpenbach, public relations representative for Signature Homes, 3,000 volunteers had already signed release waivers by Monday, eager to start working. So many volunteers showed up, many were turned away.

“I was impressed with the community spirit,” Erpenbach said. “A large number of people came out to help.”

Several SDSU students also volunteered at the site.

“It’s just cool to be able to volunteer for something like this,” said Nicole Fitzsimmons, a sociology junior. “How often does something like this come around to the area?”

“Extreme Makeover” takes approximately 100 hours to complete a house. Erpenbach said one 24-hour work-day is equivalent to 24 working days. With such a short amount of time, precision is essential and everything must be calculated correctly, she said.

Meals were also provided to workers four times a day, and approximately 300 to 400 people were served at each meal.

Local businesses were asked to cater two meals each day, while ABC catered the others.

The content inside the house will remain secret until after the episode airs on ABC, Oct. 29.