Lincolnton will be in the spotlight tonight as the episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” taped this time last year finally airs to a national audience.
James and Devonda Friday were selected to receive the home makeover as part of a series of holiday-themed episodes that have been airing the past few weeks on ABC. The weekly series received word of its cancellation while the Lincolnton project was being filmed last year, but show officials announced at the time that the set of special episodes would still be broadcast on the network.
The Friday family episode, which is scheduled to air at 8 p.m., was originally supposed to be on last Monday, but ABC announced Dec. 5 that it had been switched with another family’s episode.
As foster parents to more than 30 children, the Fridays’ story is certainly a compelling one, and it resulted in an outpouring of community support. Devonda Friday, a nine-year veteran of the police force, and her husband had been asked to provide temporary care to a teenage boy being transferred to a group home.
When he showed them a video of his four siblings, who had been separated in the foster-care system, the Fridays decided to adopt to all five to allow them to stay together.
However, their request was initially turned down because their modest ranch home didn’t have the necessary space, according to an ABC press release. As such, the Fridays converted their carport into two makeshift bedrooms and sold their van to offset expenses. The adoption was then finalized in 2011.
When news came that “Extreme Makeover” was coming to town last year, volunteers from throughout the local area pitched in to give back to a family that had already given so much to the community, helping to make their dream home come true.
The design team had just seven days to complete the transformation of their house, while the Friday family was whisked away on vacation to Jamaica. Team leader Ty Pennington, designers Michael Moloney, Jillian Harris, Ed Sanders and Paige Hemmis, local builder Bellamy Homes, as well as community volunteers, came together to build the structure.
Support for the family came in from outside Lincoln County, as well.
Belmont Abbey College in Gaston County has offered full-tuition scholarships to all of the Friday children. Likewise, staff members from the Children’s Threatre of Charlotte were tapped to help with the design, build and installation of two children’s bedrooms. The show had contacted them in early November 2011 with an invitation to participate, noted a release from the theater.
Also featured will be more than 100 foster youth from The Crossnore School — which provides residential education for children in need — who received special holiday gifts during the taping of the show. The school, located in Crossnore, is the organization through which the Friday family adopted their children.
The gifts, delivered to the children by Harris and Sanders, were crowd-sourced by kids across the country who donated portions of their allowances for presents and necessities that totaled more than $50,000.
Allowance Manager, creator of financial-management tools for families, spearheaded the campaign.
The episode will also feature an appearance by racecar driver Michael Waltrip and the Charlotte Bobcats’ female dance troupe.
Lincolnton Mayor John Gilleland, who was involved in the early stages, behind the scenes of the organizational effort, told the Times-News that he is looking forward to the rest of the country getting to see what a great spot Lincolnton is, both as a place to live and for its residents, who turned out in droves to volunteer for the project.
He was able to watch some of the construction as it was happening, saying that it seemed “almost unbelievable” in how fast it took place.
“I’m convinced that we’ve got the best place in the world to live,” Gilleland added.