With more than 3,000 volunteers contributing to a new house for the family of James and Vonda Friday last week, ABC-TV is gambling on the community spirit shown by the people of Lincolnton and the compelling story of the Fridays and their children as the right notes for a holiday special to air a year from now.
â€œWe are still in shock,â€ James Friday told a press conference Sunday morning. â€œIt took a town effort to pull this off. We live in such a great community.â€
After spending a week in Jamaica courtesy of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the Fridays received a warm welcome home from TV crew and community volunteers on Saturday. While they knew the show would remake their Moore Street home to provide more room for the children, they had plenty of surprises waiting for them upon their return.
The show and volunteers also created a storefront office for Vonda Fridayâ€™s House of Hope ministry, which provides assistance to foster parents.
James Friday said his wife was in â€œcomplete shockâ€ to learn about the office, which was revealed to the family Saturday afternoon.
â€œMy wife eats, sleeps and breathes House of Hope,â€ he said.
The biggest moment for the television series is always when the family first sees its new home. Saturday nightâ€™s big moment was no exception, as Vonda Friday hugged show host Ty Pennington in disbelief.
James Friday said he was hit by a wave of emotions, including the sense that a â€œgreat burden was being liftedâ€ and he knew his children would have a home.
After shooting at the home site until about 3 a.m. Sunday morning, the family members took in a few hours sleep at Hampton Inn before about half of them returned to the site for the 11 a.m. press conference.
Among the features of their new home are a basketball court and drive-in theater. James Friday joked Sunday that they may watch their own Extreme Makeover show in the theater.
Although many special things being done for the Fridays and their children were announced to the public over the last week, the family is still learning about a few of them. James Friday learned for the first time during Sundayâ€™s press conference that Belmont Abbey College in nearby Gaston County has offered full-tuition scholarships to each of the children.
â€œWow,â€ he responded, â€œthat means so much.â€
The show taped during the last week is set to air a year from now as a holiday special on ABC-TV. The weekly series received word of its cancelation during the project last week, but plans were also announced for a series of specials, including the broadcast that will feature the Fridays and the people of Lincolnton.
The Fridays expressed incredible gratitude for everything that was done for them over the last week. James Friday commented Sunday that â€œa lot of prayers have been answered.â€
He also told the TV crew that they would be welcome to come back for a visit.
â€œAs soon as we get the kitchen fired up, you guys will be invited back to eat,â€ he said.