published Monday, February 14th, 2011

'Extreme Makeover' meets 'Ross-Vegas'

by Andy Johns

ROSSVILLE — Rossville resident Ray Tanner said he suspected a few days ago that something big might be on the way when tree crews came to chop down a low branch over a gate at Newnan Springs United Methodist Church.

Sunday morning, when the pastor came hurrying through the halls telling Sunday school classes to brace for an army of trucks in the parking lot, Tanner and others knew what was going on.

Within a few hours the rest of the Chattanooga area learned what the congregation already had figured out: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" was coming to Rossville.

Tanner said church let out 15 minutes early.

"Everybody had to get up and see what was going on," he said.

A fleet of trucks brought a mountain of supplies and a horde of volunteers to Newnan Springs and nearby Monahaw Avenue shortly after noon. The tents set up at nearby Lake Winnepesaukah, the neighbors crowding the street and a steady stream of cars driving past police barricades gave the whole area a carnival feel.

Lance Hatfield pulled up his mailbox to allow trucks to pull into the yard.

"It's turning Rossville into Ross-Vegas," Hatfield said.

All of the action was for one family.

Michael and Cindy Sharrock and their 9-year-old son, Patrick, were at the Creative Discovery Museum on Sunday morning when "Makeover" host Ty Pennington and other designers gave them the surprise they'd been hoping for.

"When I saw the bullhorn, I was like 'Gosh, I can't believe it,'" Cindy Sharrock said as she addressed a throng of reporters in her neighbor's yard Sunday.

In the show, which airs on ABC on Sunday nights, Pennington and company surprise a family in need by rebuilding their home in a blitz that packs weeks of construction into 106 hours.

In each episode, Pennington surprises the family by shouting to them through a bullhorn. Most Sunday nights, Patrick is yelling along in his Rossville living room with his own bullhorn.

"What's going through my mind is yahoooo!" Patrick told reporters.

Patrick and his parents will be whisked away to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., while Pennington and designers Ed Sanders, Leigh Anne Tuohy, Eduardo Xol and Xzibit work with Vision Homes and community volunteers to build the family a new home.

Their house at 179 Monahaw Ave. is just inside Catoosa County near Lakeview Drive but has a Rossville address.

The main focus of the project will be building a house safe for Patrick, who has brittle bone disease. The disorder makes his bones very fragile, and his parents said the 50-year-old, 1,000 square-foot house is to blame for a few of the 59 fractures he's had during his life.

"It needs to go," said Michael Sharrock, who works at Siskin Steel.

Local builders Craig Smith and Jason Willard, who had to fight back tears at points during the taping Sunday, gave few clues as to what the building will look like but said it will be about 3,000 square feet.

But with all the star power at the site Sunday, it was Patrick who stole the show.

During a news conference, he said he always watches the show and likes to watch the crew tear down the houses.

His loud "Thank you!" from the middle of a huddle of volunteers drew cheers from volunteers and spectators.

Throughout the day he played with the designers, racing Sanders down the driveway in his wheelchair and telling jokes with the crew.

Neighbor Johnny Clark said he's seen Patrick playing in the yard wearing his leg braces.

"If anybody in this world ever deserves it, it's that little boy," said Clark. "He's had a really hard life. He could fall on a pile of sawdust and break a bone."

Clark said he and other neighbors know the nail guns and saws running 24 hours a day might keep them awake, but they don't mind.

"For that little boy, what little inconvenience I have to put up with is nothing," he said.

Demolition is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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midnitewatchman said...

What a great story! I hope they get everything they have ever wanted.

February 14, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.
nowfedup said...

Great story but one issue with the whole thing. It seems someone is making a lot of money off the volunteers-donations etc in advertising and ratings on the program. Would feel a lot better about that side of it if as with most charities the program had to post costs, profits etc. To bad we cannot get such a home built via all the PR for habitat for humanity at say two a month, or maybe one a week repaired for needy, using same methods.

Wonderful for this family but sure would like to see a P&L with wages for program, network and all of that side of it.

February 14, 2011 at 9:43 a.m.
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