Yesterday, July 31, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” traveled to Ottawa, Kansas, to surprise the Hill family with the door knock that can change lives. Staff Sergeant Allen Hill was almost killed by a massive roadside bomb while serving in Iraq. He has recovered from the physical wounds, but is still haunted by injuries that we can’t see. Environmental triggers such as loud noises, dimly lit spaces and long hallways can bring about episodes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some of these episodes are particularly dangerous, as they can send the Sergeant running for cover; one of his family’s greatest fears is that he will run into the street during an episode and be killed. The Sergeant has just completed years-long inpatient PTSD treatment far from home, and is ready to return. Unfortunately, environmental triggers abound in his former home: The house he once lived in is near a rock quarry, where there are constant dynamite blasts, and there’s a train yard that is a perpetual source of terrifying noises and vibrations. For Sergeant Hill to be reunited with his family, he needs a new home — one built in a suitable location.
Oscar-winning actress Glenn Close personally nominated the Hill family for this “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” episode. She founded a non-profit organization, Bring Change 2 Mind, when her sister was struggling with bipolar disorder; the foundation educates and raises awareness about mental illness and offers support both financially and emotionally for families who suffer from mental illness, including PTSD. Close has been heavily involved in the Puppies Behind Bars program, which employs prisoners to train service dogs for wounded vets. Sergeant Hill’s new service dog from Puppies Behind Bars, Frankie, has helped him make significant strides toward wellness and has become his lifeline.
Bring Change 2 Mind sourced an appropriate piece of land and has helped arrange its donation for the Hills’ new house. Now the “EM:HE” design team has just seven days to build that brand-new home. The Hill parents and their two sons have been whisked away on a dream vacation to Yosemite while “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team leader Ty Pennington and designers Paul DiMeo, Paige Hemmis, Ed Sanders and Johnny Littlefield, as well as local builders M.A.C. Corporation and Canyon Creek Construction, LLC and community volunteers, build the structure.
The build location is 11 Wheatland Dr., Ottawa, KS 66067.