Extreme Makeover: Home Edition lands in Hattiesburg

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) -  Hollywood came to Hattiesburg on Thursday. ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is about to build a new house for a hometown hero.

Sherman Heathcock is a Mississippi National Guardsman, currently on his second tour of duty in Iraq. He and his wife Gina and their three children live in an older home that's been leaking ever since Hurricane Katrina knocked several trees onto it.

But the family's dream is about to come true.

Camera crews, home designers and visiting media converged on South 18th Street in Hattiesburg Thursday morning. The Heathcock home is about to undergo an extreme makeover.

Brent Williams, who lives across the street, said it's a very deserving family.

"These kids play out in the front yard with their older friends. And he's overseas doing our battles for us. I just think it's a great thing," Williams said.

Designer Johnny Littlefield tossed the football with 10-year -ld Gary Heathcock. He said the "door knock" was something special.

"Gina came out and it was just tears. Now the kids, they all say, 'Wow, we're getting a brand new bedroom.' But Gina sees hope and she sees relief," Littlefield said.

The recognizable Ty Pennington was visible, but busy with the production. Littlefield said Sherman Heathcock's selfless military service makes this one special.

"Well, whenever you're helping someone who puts his life on the line every single day for our freedom, it makes it that much more special."

AAA Homes is the lead builder on the project. And David Thompson said finding volunteers hasn't been a problem.

"I just had a lady call me this morning and say, Look, there's 30 family members that are dying to work on this house, now that we know it's our nephew, or our cousin. So, we're going to try and find a place for them, certainly," Thompson said.

Even though this is a well planned project, the one thing they can't control is the weather. And even that is expected to get extreme this week, with a chance of snow flurries Friday night.

As Ty Pennington gathered the family, an army of volunteers came over the hill. They are the folks who will help build a dream home in just seven days.

"Not just to do something wonderful for a family that is deserving, but it's a chance to show the world how really great a community Hattiesburg is," said Gary Fordham of AAA Homes.

Hundreds of volunteers have signed up to help with the project. The Extreme Makeover crew will demolish the old house Saturday and have the new one finished in just a week.

To see a build schedule, or find out more about the project, visit www.ExtremeHattiesburg.com.

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