Families who suffered from the Joplin, Missouri tornado get new homes in the last episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
In light of the news that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been canceled, there’s a large finale to look forward to. This will be the 200th episode of the show. In just 7 days, 7 homes will be built. Never before have they tackled redoing homes for 7 families at once.
In addition to the 7 homes being built, the team also works on a local park to give it a new playground and memorial to honor volunteers who helped after the tornado hit.
The army of people helping includes 13,000 people. Celebrities featured in this episode include LA Laker Kobe Bryant, Kansas City Chiefs’ Matt Cassel and Clark Hunt, as well as Good Morning America’s Sam Champion.
“The parents and children from all 7 of the Joplin families were whisked away on a dream vacation to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, while “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team leader Ty Pennington, designers Paul DiMeo, Paige Hemmis, Michael Moloney and Tracy Hutson, along with Sam Clifton from Millstone Custom Homes, who is lead builder for 21 builders, and approximately 13,000 Volunteers and community volunteers build the structures and work on the local park.” – Press Release
Here are the Seven Families Whose Lives Will be Changed in the Extreme Makeover Home Edition Series Finale
The Nguyen Family
Thang Nguyen (pronounced “win”) came to the U.S. in search of the American dream. Thang was in the Vietnamese Air Force and fought alongside the U.S. during the Vietnam War. Afterwards, he was able to move to the U.S. with his family and took a job with General Mills in Joplin. He was on the verge of retirement when the May 22nd tornado took away his dream.
The Nguyens had been living with Tiffany’s daughter, Sara, and their granddaughter, Alex. The Nguyens received help from a local church and are living in an apartment funded by insurance. However the lease will be up in December, and Thang and Tiffany will be left with no place to live.
The Howard Family
Kyle, the father and a Joplin fireman, was at work at the fire station during the storm and spent the first two hours after the tornado not knowing if his wife and kids had made it out alive. He made many stops along the way home, through the rubble, rescuing trapped victims and tending to injured members of the community. Meanwhile Jill and their children, Konnor, Korbin and Kaleb, huddled in a closet.
After the storm, they had no idea if Kyle was alive, but eventually the family, along with older son Keenan, who was out of town at the time, was reunited. Jill sustained minor injuries, but their home was completely destroyed.
The Gonzalez Family
Having both been divorced, Natalie and Scott (who live with Natalie’s son, Augie) didn’t think they would remarry. But when the tornado took their home, they changed their minds.
They survived the tornado, broken and without a home, but their family had grown stronger and closer. Scott proposed to Natalie a few weeks later, and now the family would like to start over. They’re currently living in a rental outside of town, but the family loves Joplin and plans on driving Augie back for school.
The Nevins Family
Kari and Justin Nevins love Joplin and prior to the tornado, their home was known as “the neighborhood’s house,” where kids could play, have refreshments and hang out. Kari is part of Bright Futures, a, organization whose goal it is to increase graduation rates through teaming with businesses and faith-based partners to provide for the needs of students.
The tornado not only destroyed their home, it also destroyed the entire neighborhood and school Kari worked so hard to help. Without a home, the Nevins are now staying in a rental home 17 miles outside Joplin, as they try to piece back their lives, but they want to come back.
The Walters Family
In 2006, Tom and Emily Walters bought a house with dreams of raising their family in the beautiful, small town of Joplin. Emily is a nurse, and Tom a coach and teacher.
Along with others, Tom and Emily helped rescue several people. With their home destroyed and unable to be rebuilt, they’ve moved from place to place.
The Cogdill Family
Single mom Crystal Cogdill works for the Joplin Housing Authority. She has a passion for helping people find housing, but in a cruel twist, now finds herself homeless. In the tornado, Crystal lost her 9-year-old son, Zach Treadwell. Upon hearing the sirens, she hustled her kids inside the house and, following her emergency plan, huddled with them in the bathtub. As the home came apart around them, she felt her grip on her children weakening. The storm eventually overpowered her and ripped the kids from her arms. When she next saw Zach, his lifeless body was pinned beneath a utility pole. Stunned, Crystal finds her friend (also named Crystal). The two friends soon make a horrifying discovery; both of them have lost children to one of the most devastating weather events this nation has ever endured. Currently, Crystal Cogdill lives with friends and has begun the process of starting over.
The Whitely Family
Before the storm, Crystal Whitely was the ultimate single mother taking care of her three kids and working as a personal care aid. Crystal loved working with her clients that were disabled and elderly, but her kids are her life. The night of the storm, the whole family took cover in the bathtub, but moments later, the house was pulled off its foundation. Though she tried desperately to hang on to them, 10-year-old Shante and 6-year-old Trentan were ripped from Crystal’s arms. Only Crystal and her 4-year-old daughter, Keana, survived.
This episode will air Friday, January 13, (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.