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A Knock, Then Gift as Big as a House

September 28, 2005
Portland Press Herald
Author: Ray Routhier

A wish-granting TV show will build a home for a Wells lobsterman who lost part of his arm in an accident.

Good morning, we're here to tear your house down.

That's the breakfast-time greeting that Doug Goodale, a Wells lobsterman who lost part of his arm in a fishing accident, got when he answered his door Tuesday morning.

The knockers were TV carpenter Ty Pennington and his crew from the ABC wish-granting reality show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

The show picks families that have endured some extreme economic hardship or horrific accident and builds them a brand-new home with donated brand-name appliances and state-of-the-art creature comforts.

The heartwarming story and the hectic scramble to build the deserving family a new home are captured by the show's cameras and condensed into a one-hour program.

Goodale, 40, had to cut off part of his right arm on Sept. 30, 1997, when it was tangled and mashed by his trap-hauling winch aboard his lobster boat. He cut through his own flesh with a knife to free himself, and later his arm had to be amputated above the elbow.

After the accident, he went back to lobstering to support his three young children. So he definitely meets the show's criteria.

When the crew arrived Tuesday, Goodale and his family - his wife and two of his daughters - were stunned.

"It was hilarious," said Goodale's mother, Jeannine. "We're all excited for him. I've seen the show a number of times and they do beautiful things."

Jeannine Goodale said her son still fishes for lobster, eight years after his accident, and he continues to struggle to adapt to doing everything with one arm - steering, hauling, tinkering with the engine.

The show's producers say someone in the family nominated Goodale for a new home, but his mother said she didn't know who. Goodale did not know he had been picked to receive a new home, his mother said.

As is the show's practice, Goodale and his family were filmed being surprised, then were whisked away Tuesday to a secret vacation destination until the new house is finished. Goodale's three daughters are now 10, 14 and 19.

The existing double-wide trailer home on Goodale's lot is scheduled for demolition Thursday, and a new home will be constructed by Aroostook County-based Katahdin Cedar Log Homes. It is supposed to be ready for the Goodales to see on Tuesday.

The one-hour show always features the family returning in a limousine to be greeted by hundreds of relatives, friends and volunteer workers. A bus blocks their view of the new home until Pennington, the show's host, yells "Bus driver, move that bus!" Joyous screaming always follows, as well as a filmed tour of the new house.

The whirlwind construction schedule is made possible through advance planning and donated labor, materials and appliances. Only once in the show's two-plus years on the air have workers finished a home even slightly behind schedule, said Myra Miller, a publicist with the show.

Often, the new homes include a bedroom for every family member, computers and flat-screen TVs in several rooms and fanciful backyards with waterfalls, giant tree houses or tiki huts. Sometimes the show even throws in a couple of new cars in the garage.

While the Goodales are on vacation, Pennington and his team of five or six designers will be filmed directing the construction of the new home, along with local Katahdin log home dealers and other local workers.

The lightning-fast construction schedule includes demolition on Thursday; exterior construction and roofing on Friday; electrical, plumbing and painting on Saturday; flooring, appliances and cabinets on Sunday; interior finishes and landscaping on Monday; and the "reveal" to the family sometime after noon on Tuesday.

Miller, the publicist, said the show featuring Goodale and his family might air as soon as December or January, but she did not have a firm date. The show airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC and can be seen locally on WMTW (Channel 8).

People can watch the progress of the home construction on the Internet this week at www.winniegroup.com by clicking the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" icon.

When the show does air, the Goodale family's new home will be seen by viewers nationwide. Last season the show averaged more than 15 million viewers a week.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

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