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Volunteers, TV show build new home for Gibbs family

By Jean Caspers-Simmet
simmet@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 10/26/2011 6:24 PM

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WEST UNION, Iowa — Audrey Gibbs' six children —Josh, Nathan, Tom, Jessi, Nicole and Daniel — said thank-you over and over as they met news media and community members who helped build their new home as part of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

When asked if they were getting used to being the center of attention as the TV show mobilized builders and volunteers to demolish their old house and build a new one in a week's time, the children had a simple answer, "No."

They met builders Ed and Janet Larson of Larson Construction in Independence, architect Nick Hildebrandt of StruXture Architects in Waterloo and representatives from Northeast Iowa Community College and Upper Iowa University.

The show's design team said donations will pay off the family's mortgage and help with other expenses. Anytime Fitness gave the family an annual membership and Moore's Food presented them gift cards for a year's worth of groceries.

Julie Huiskamp of Northeast Iowa Community College and Alan Walker of Upper Iowa University presented the five youngest Gibbs children with two-year scholarships to each institution.

Audrey, who is legally blind due to an aneurysm that occurred just seven months after her husband, Jon, died of cancer in 2000, didn't attend the news conference Oct. 9 because she had a bad headache. Family, friends and the show's producers decided it would be best if she rested. The aneurysm affected a quarter of her brain and has the potential to be fatal.

The family first learned about the project when show host Ty Pennington and the team of designers surprised them on Oct. 2 with a knock on the door.

The Gibbs own and live on the farm and rent portions to local farmers. Their farmhouse lacked a working toilet and a ceilingwas caving in.

Following Pennington's visit, Audrey and her children were whisked away for an all expense paid trip to Boca Raton, Fla.

"We spent a lot of time together as a family," Josh, 20, said. "It was good."

Pennington, designers Paul DeMeo, Tracy Hutson, Sabrina Soto, Jeff Dye and local builders Larson Construction Company as well as more than 3,000 community volunteers demolished the old house, raised money and built a new home in just 106 hours. Volunteers worked around the clock.

The five bedroom farm-style house includes a square silo, and a garage that looks like a barn. The show is releasing few details about the interior of the home until after the episode airs. The air date hasn't been released.