Yesterday, July 10, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” traveled to Madison, Georgia, to surprise the Rucker family with the door knock that can change lives. Anaiah Rucker is a smart, fun, athletic, sweet, straight-A student with the dream of attending Harvard and becoming a doctor or lawyer, though she will be a fifth grader this fall. That dream was threatened on February 4, 2011 when Anaiah, then just 9 years old, saved her 5-year-old sister, Camry, by pushing her out of the path of an oncoming truck. Anaiah was struck herself, leaving her with massive, life-threatening injuries. Undaunted by these injuries, she has endured the amputation of her left leg and grueling rehab to get her body back in shape so she can continue playing sports, singing in the chorus, and working hard at her studies. Happy to have her best friend and sister Camry safe and sound, Anaiah and her family are focused on her getting well and making her stronger than ever, which is a challenge because she is currently wheelchair bound.
Loved by all who know her, Anaiah has been showered with affection and support by her small town community of Madison. The town has rallied around this heroine, helping her family in any way they can. Kids at school have sold “bottle cap” necklaces, community groups have had barbecues and perfect strangers have given Anaiah a helping hand and well wishes. Her story has been heard “’round the world” as celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Dwight Howard have reached out to her. Despite many challenges, the family is tighter than ever, and mom Andrea is grateful that both of the daughters she adores are still here. Although they have few resources, they still retain a positive, upbeat, inspiring attitude.
Andrea loves kids – she says her two beautiful daughters are her “whole life” – and despite her time limitations, she extends that love of children by volunteering at the local Boys & Girls Club. This affords her more time with her girls, as well as letting her get to know the kids in her community. Andrea would love to establish programs at the Boys & Girls Club for mothers and mentoring programs for young girls.
The EM:HE design team has just seven days to build a brand new home for Anaiah and her family, one that is safe, secure, ADA-accessible and free of obstacles, where the girls can continue to study hard and pursue their dreams. The Rucker family has been whisked away on a dream vacation to Walt Disney World, while “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team leader Ty Pennington, designers Paige Hemmis, Michael Moloney, Xzibit, and local builders Pilot Homes and Smart Properties, as well as community volunteers, build the structure.
The build location is 1000 Churchill Ave, Madison, Georgia.
The series is produced by Endemol USA, of Endemol Holding, and executive-produced by Brady Connell & George Verschoor. David Goldberg is Chairman, Endemol North America.