Brad Harper, left, of Fairplay just outside Social Circle, and Covington resident Shane Oliver, both of whom work for Social Circle Ace Hardware, worked from 4:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday helping to frame a new home in Madison for rising fifth-grader Anaiah Rucker and her family as a part of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Rucker's left leg was amputated and she has been wheelchair bound as a result of injuries she sustained when she pushed her 5-year-old sister out of the way of an oncoming truck. The construction will wrap up sometime Saturday in time for the famous "Move That Bus" ceremony. The television show is expected to air on ABC in October.
COVINGTON — It was extremely hot and they were extremely tired, but the volunteers were extremely gratified to participate in the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" television show that is filming this week in Madison.
"I did this to say I helped out, and I have a 0good feeling about doing it," said Covington resident Shane Oliver. "We were tired when we left, but it felt good to help."
Oliver, along with Brad Harper of Fairplay, which is just outside Social Circle, were two local volunteers who took part in helping to build a new home for rising fifth-grader Anaiah Rucker and her family in Madison.
Rucker was severely injured at the age of 9 when she pushed her 5-year-old sister out of the path of an oncoming truck. Rucker's left leg was amputated and she is now wheelchair-bound.
Rucker, her mother, Andrea, and two sisters, Camry and Amariah, were awakened Sunday to a knock on the door by the show's host, Ty Pennington, and the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" design crew. They were sent on a vacation to Walt Disney World while designers, builders and volunteers worked over the next several days to renovate the family's home to accommodate Rucker.
Harper and Oliver work in sales at Social Circle Ace Hardware. Harper, who also serves as a subcontractor coordinator with Ace Hardware, said he learned about the "Extreme Makeover" build after representatives from the show came to the store to inquire about building materials. He suggested that he and Oliver sign up to help with framing. Harper said one of the construction superintendents with the TV show called and conducted a brief interview before giving him the assignment.
Harper and Oliver showed up at the assigned area about 3:30 a.m. Monday to fill out paperwork and to receive their blue "Extreme Makeover" T-shirts and white hard hats. They then loaded their tools and hopped in a bus that took them to the job site.
Harper said it was "pretty nerve-wracking" at first, but the two framing crews jumped into action and the construction moved along quickly.
"We started about 4:30 (a.m.) and the first thing we did was put in the floor system and subflooring and we finished about 7 a.m.," he said. "After that they brought the wall sections in, which they had prepared ahead of time in a warehouse. All the wall sections were numbered and they just unloaded them. One of the main builders was directing everyone where to put them."
Both Oliver and Harper agreed the construction site was extremely organized and well run. Each day is broken down into 30- or 60-minute blocks of time with particular tasks assigned for each segment, Harper said.
"We worked very hard and it was very hot, but I was impressed with how much they did and how little time they did it in," Oliver said. "The main framing crew was pretty impressive. They just worked and worked to get the job done. It was very impressive."
Harper said by the time their shift ended at 2 p.m. all the walls of the 2,400-square-foot home were standing and crews were finishing leveling and tying the wall sections together.
"At first it seemed like mass chaos with two distinct framing crews on the ground, but both crews were able to mesh together and it went very smoothly," he said.
Behind the scenes, teams of other volunteers and local businesses were busy on site working in hospitality tents, setting up fans and providing drinks and food for the construction crews.
One of those local businesses is the Blue Willow Inn. Billie Van Dyke, owner of the famed Southern cuisine restaurant in Social Circle, said she has been providing lemonade and sweet tea — or what Southern Living magazine has dubbed "champagne of the South" — for the crews and volunteers.
"We have our Antebellum Girl who stands out there and helps and looks pretty," Van Dyke said. "They're really having a ball."
She said she is planning to provide a lunchtime meal today for the crew.
"It is so much fun being a part of it," Van Dyke said.
That sentiment is shared by many.
"Just being able to use a talent that God has given me to help someone is pretty exciting," Harper said. "Seeing a family that has had some hard times be able to have a home they can be proud of is exciting. ... I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I plan to enjoy the experience."
Construction and final details on the Rucker house are to be finished sometime between noon and 3 p.m. Saturday in time for the famous "Move That Bus" scene when the family returns from their vacation to see and tour their new home.
Members of the public are allowed to visit the site beginning at 8 a.m. each day. Spectators need to park at Ingles in Madison, 1441 Eatonton Road, and take a shuttle to the build site. The shuttle will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those wishing to be on site for "Move That Bus" are encouraged to arrive early Saturday.
For more information about the Rucker home and the construction, visit Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Georgia Build on Facebook.
The show is expected to air on ABC in October.