3,000 attend rally to kick off Extreme Makeover local project

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WVEC.com

Posted on February 1, 2011 at 12:55 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- 3,000 people jammed the Va. Beach Convention Center Thursday night for the kick-off to ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project in Hampton Roads.

The family getting the makeover hasn't been revealed; however, show producers say they live on the Southside and are involved with the foodbank.

That's another aspect of the makeover: a massive drive that has a goal of raising 307,000 pounds of food for the foodbanks of Southeastern Virginia, the Virginia Peninsula, and of the Albemarle.

"It's an amazing thing to have a greater impact than just the one family," says EMHE senior producer Milan Vasic. "To be able to make a difference for the foodbanks, unbelievable."

Among those taking the stage at Thursday night's pep rally was Elizabeth Hughes, the 9-year-old whose microphone gave out at a Norfolk Admirals game, prompting the crowd to join her in finishing the National Anthem at the game.

Also performing was Lewis McGehee from Chespeake, who premiered his anthem for the Hampton Roads Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build. It's called “It’s Our Time to Make a Difference.”

The show does not cover all the costs of constructing the house. Show officials say they depend on local firms to donate on average 90% of all labor and materials.

Trademark Construction of Chesapeake has set up a Build Fund to pay for any unanticipated expenses. This also provides an opportunity for the community to pitch in to help build the home.

"We need the entire community’s involvement,” says Duane Cotton of Trademark Construction. “Whatever anyone can give, $1,000, $500, $50 – any amount helps."

Cotton's first involvement with the show was at a work site in Pine Mountain Valley, Georgia.

"I've experience something like I've never seen before: people from all over the country helping this family in the middle of 'Nowhere,' Georgia, and I said, if we can do that there, we can definitely do it in Hampton Roads," Cotton tells 13News.

"There's something about this show that people can relate to. When you're on the build, you can relate to the environment you're in. You can relate to the compassion," adds Cotton.

Any money that's left over will go to the family for living and educational expenses and to help retire the mortgage.

"This is just awesome. I'm so excited. I am so excited. I think this is just the greatest thing," says Vanette Davenport who will volunteer her services to the effort.

"This is just the dream of a lifetime, really," Davneport shares. "When you see the show, you know, Sunday after Sunday, and so many people being blessed, and I mean, oh, my gosh. I just can't believe they're actually here."

"Having community participation is vital to the success," Vasic says. "Come. Be part of the process. It's an amazing thing to be part of the experience."

Construction is set to begin in less than two weeks.

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