On Sunday, the Lutz family of East Setauket, New York thought they had simply been invited to attend an afternoon baseball game between the Yankees and the New York Mets. Instead they were surprised to find out they would be the latest recipients of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” re-build via the Jumbotron screen at Yankee Stadium. In place of design team leader Ty Pennington’s traditional morning wake up call to the deserving family, he stormed the field and announced the good news just before the game.
Adding to the excitement of both the spectators and family was the appearance of several New York Yankees baseball players who were there to offer encouragement and support. Also, hundreds of volunteer workers, clad in the now- iconic “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” blue shirts, ran out from the dugout to join the Lutz family, Ty and fellow designers on the baseball field.
In an episode that will air later this season, the theme of this build will be “New York! New York!” There’ll be a Broadway-like production, with the entire blue shirt crew and design team singing and dancing while the home is being demolished. Also, during the week of the build, there will be an extravagant parade on the family’s block, complete with huge floats.
The Lutzes are another representation of the kind of family “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” aims to help by building a new home in just seven days. Unable to have children of their own, loving couple Grace and John Lutz gave their hearts to 18 adopted kids, including seven with Down Syndrome. After the couple passed away, their daughter, Kathleen, gave up her career and gladly came home to take care of six Down siblings who currently range in age from 20 to 25 years. Everyone agreed that putting the kids in a group home or institution was not an option. It was a good plan, until Kathleen suddenly and unexpectedly had a grand mal seizure and was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Her brother, John Jr., was next at bat, sacrificing his successful career as a gymnastics coach to move home and care for his sister and siblings. Kathleen’s health is now stabilized and both brother and sister care for their family as a team.
Nothing can dampen the spirits of this cheerful group. They love to sing and dance, cook and play games together. But the crumbling condition of their 40-year-old home has become a concern. The electrical wiring is unsafe, water leaks everywhere and there is mold and woodrot. Everybody in town loves this charming and special family. They’re local celebrities, and the community rallies to help them in every way. Unfortunately their home is at a point where band-aids are not enough. The Down siblings will not grow up and move away, they will not marry or drive cars. They need their home to be a safe, permanent one, with everything to accommodate their special needs.
The Lutz family will go on vacation to the Hamptons while “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team leader Ty Pennington, designers Paul DiMeo, Paige Hemmis, Tracy Hutson, local builder Alure Home Improvements and community volunteers rebuild their home.