Day Two – World, Meet West Texas!

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We have learned about the family and we learned a bunch about West Texas

In a word, the last 36 hours has been amazing!!!

We met the Brown family – Johnny Mac, Jeanne and Katrina and we learned all about Alex, their daughter who was tragically killed a year ago in a single car accident – caused by texting while driving. We met Alex’ family, we met her friends and we met her community and again, all are simply amazing!

I was told by radio host Gwen McCown in Midland, TX a week and a half ago that I better brace myself for being overwhelmed by the size of the hearts in West Texas. I had no clue how right she was. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the family, the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition TV show and for us as the builder. Everywhere we turn, someone is standing at the ready, asking, often begging if they can help us, the show, the family and/or the community.

We are doing everything we can to let every person help in some way.

Here are some options on how you can get involved:

  • Volunteers - if you have registered to volunteer and have NOT been contacted about a specific shift, hang tight, we are finding additional spots and notifying people as fast as we can.
  • Donations - we need to help the Browns spread the word to teens across America so we have created a Remember Alex Brown fund and we are asking everyone who is capable, to donate, even if only a dollar. Donate here. Everyone who donates $100 or more will be invited to be my special guest to the VIP tent right next to the build site. Donate and then email me for details.
  • Spectator Viewing Area
    Spectator Viewing Area View On Flickr
    Spectator Viewing Area
    Spectator Viewing Area View On Flickr
    Spectator Viewing Area
    Spectator Viewing Area View On Flickr
  • Public Spectator Viewing – the general public is invited to view the build process starting tomorrow morning. Starting at noon Thursday you can see the build up close by coming to Wellman High School in Wellman TX to the check in tent by the football field and taking a shuttle to the Brown’s property.
  • Spread the Word – we need to tell the world about Alex Brown’s story to prevent other tragedies. Tell your friends and family to join our Facebook page for constant updates on the build cycle and to join the Facebook group we created for the Browns called: Please Don’t Text And Drive Near Me or My Family

Hello From Colleen

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Tumbleweed!
Tumbleweed! View On Flickr

Hey, Guys! Well, it’s my first time to come out to the vast, windy plains of West Texas! But no one warned me about the tumbleweed! COMPLETELY VICIOUS!! Take a look at this photo I have to warn you of the tumbleweed dangers in case you are ever out here! This wild thing came out of nowhere and nearly did me in while Tom and Maury just stood there, paralyzed with fear, and did nothing to save me!!! Good thing I can run fast!

Having fun at our second Extreme Makeover build. Wicked cold when we started out this morning, but the Browns are such a great family and I am so glad we are finally MOVING forward with this build for them! We surprised them this morning and then sent them off to New York while we rebuild their house and set up a fund to help raise awareness for not texting while driving, which killed their 17-year old daughter one year ago on December 1. Such a tragic loss!

Cannot wait to see the house delivered on Wednesday and Thursday! I hear the Ft. Worth team has done an amazing job! Once again, it is great to be part of something great with some REALLY great people. C’mon out to Wellman and watch us! We’d love to see you there!

And thanks to everyone who is donating to the Brown Foundation!!!! Love watching the Texas people do what Texas people do: Take care of their neighbors! Your donations will make it possible for them to travel further, more often to tell their story to help save lives! Check back soon!

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Hopes to Bring Some Sunshine to a Wellman, Texas Family Who Lost Their Teen-aged Daughter in a Texting-while-driving Accident

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On November 16, the Brown family — Jeanne, Johnnie Mac and their 12-year-old daughter Katrina, were giving a presentation to area high school students at Seagraves High School in their small hometown of Wellman, Texas (population 300). They told the teen-aged audience about the dangerous consequences that can come from driving while talking on a cell phone, texting-while-driving and riding in a car without a seat belt. Sadly, this family knows their topic too well since losing their loved one, Alex, who was texting-while-driving and not wearing her seatbelt. While Amanda Billings was speaking about the experience of losing her best friend since childhood, she gave a cue and the 600-plus students reached below their seats and lifted up cards that read “Good Morning, Brown Family!” Then, the EM: HE bus rode onto the football field, and the design team jumped out to let this deserving family know that they are the latest recipients of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Seventeen-year-old Alex Brown epitomized the traditional All-American girl: beautiful, smart, vivacious and beloved by everyone who knew her. Tragically, her dreams of a career in broadcast journalism and a life filled with so much promise were cut short. In November 2009, she was killed in a single car accident. Those left behind include Alex’s brave parents and her amazing younger sister. To ensure that no other family suffers such a heartbreaking loss, they turned their tragedy into opportunity. Today, they travel around Texas hauling Alex’s wrecked truck on their flat-bed trailer to local high schools, reminding young people of the dangers of distracted driving. Their goal is simple: they want to save lives.

The Browns will take a vacation to New York City. Meanwhile, “EM: HE” design team leader Ty Pennington and designers Paige Hemmis, Michael Moloney and Leigh Anne Tuohy, local builder Palm Harbor Homes and community volunteers will build them a real home on a stable foundation.

Please donate to help provide for additional needs for the Brown family.

Overwhelming Response by West Texas

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Ever heard the story about the boy trying to save the world one Starfish at a time?

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…”I made a difference for that one.”

Well, we have a strange twist to add to the story…..we have more people than starfish! That’s right, we have officially exceeded the number of volunteers we have space for on the build site. So let me re-phrase our challenge, we have more people than Starfish “on our beach”….meaning we can’t accommodate all the volunteers willing to help-specifically at the build site.

BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t help. It just means we need to relocate to other parts “of the beach” where you can make a huge difference one starfish at a time. There will be some openings during the week, there will be a spectator viewing area later in the week and there will be plenty of things to do away from the actual build site where you can make a huge difference. If you have not received an assignment yet, stay tuned and be patient, we want all of you involved.

So therefore what?

Over the next day or two, we will be announcing related events for the coming days and we will be posting directions & hours in which public viewing areas will be set up. So please, continue to stay tuned to learn more as we get closer to starting our Extreme Build and making a huge difference to every Starfish we can reach. One need we still have is the need for donations. All proceeds go straight to the family in some way. Help all you can and also spread the word.


For those volunteers we assign to the build site, here’s what happens:

Volunteers will be directed to an off-site parking area where there will be a check in tent – where Volunteers will sign in and recieve shirts/hats. We will announce details on this tomorrow morning around 10:30 AM by email, phone, web, Facebook and if I can find a carrier pigeon nearby I will put him to work too. LOL!

From the holding tent the Volunteer coordinators will dispatch you to your assigned duties. Because this project happens in stages, we will make sure to communicate with you, so when in doubt, check your email :) We may not be quick to reply to emails right now because of the overwhelming response but we will definitely communicate with you when we get the green light to start mobilizing.

West Texas, you rock! :)

Come Help Us Change Lives… Starting With Your Own

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As we approach the day we start building our second home for a well deserving family with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in the Texas Panhandle, I am refusing to lose sight of the ultimate purpose like I almost did during the first build we did earlier this year.  We build thousands of homes every year but with this one, there are a million extra details to handle. We have to order hard hats, we have to set up food tents to feed hundreds of volunteers, we have to organize pep rallies and the list goes on…

But this time, I am staying in the moment and not losing sight of why we are doing what we are doing…..it’s about changing lives.  Yes we believe we change lives every time we build a home but I am convinced that the lives that change the most during one of these Extreme Makeover builds is the people who volunteer!



I met 1000 people during our last build and I still have hundreds of emails and blogs from them telling me how much the experience meant to them. Here’s a sampling of comments from Volunteers during our first build earlier this year:

There was Lisa Kerley who said: I will say that I have never in my 49 years ever experienced anything quite like this and I have done a lot of volunteer work in my day. Absolutely nothing has touched me the way being a part of this has. I do not know the family and live about 2 hours from the home site but the 3 trips I made down this week to work were well worth it, I would not have traded this week for anything!  Thank you Palm Harbor and Extreme Makeover Home Edition for this project.  I will be watching for more opportunities to participate!  Nothing I did or could have done this week even comes close to what I got out of it!

Neal Wilson said: This is one of my Bucket List items to do. To be able to help EMHE help a family in need.

And Charlotte Gunby said: I am blessed just to have been a part of it this week and it is a blessing that I’ll never forget!!! Thanks for the wonderful memories!!!

And Doreen Dimitri
agreed: I was able to help yesterday and let me say that it was the best experience that I have ever had.

I love what Cindy Stinnette said: It has been such an awesome experience to volunteer for this project and see the Williams’ new home. Thank you so much EMHE and Palm Harbor Homes for choosing this family and Harris County…in the words of Ty Pennington, “Welcome Home Williams Family, Welcome Home!”

You can tell that Patty Hindsman loved the experience: Just got in from volunteering, man what a great feeling. All of the people are so friendly and all of the volunteers that I met were just ecstatic to be there. It is just a great feeling to know that such a wonderful family is getting a truly wonderful home. Our family has been out in full force and have really enjoyed being there and working in any way that they could. Thank-you so much Extreme Makeover and Palm Harbor Homes, they will appreciate everything that you did. I can’t wait to see the show. Hope to be there when they say, “MOVE THAT BUS!”. It’s going to be an awesome show. God bless everyone who had a hand in making this possible.

And maybe the simplest was to express it was by Steve Potts: This is one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of.


SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
We need volunteers to sign up immediately for our next build in the Texas Panhandle.  Simply click here and Register.  Then plan to be at one of the Pep Rallies Monday Nov 8th in Midland TX or Tuesday November 9th in Lubbock, TX .  We need volunteers to register for many different services so we can start planning shifts. Don’t wait, if you are interested in volunteering, do it today because…

Kim Parks unfortunately said: I was so humbled by the outpouring of volunteers….and proud. And I  was amazed that even though I thought I signed up to volunteer rather quickly, I didn’t get a spot!

She missed out because shifts fill up fast!!!