She’s always been a believer in volunteering and helping others, but last week Cushing resident Debra Tull was able to experience some Extreme volunteering – Extreme Makeover volunteering, that is.
Tull saw the opportunity to take part in ABC’s hit television series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition last week and took it. Tull, along with her daughter Ashley (Tull) Cockerham and son-in-law John Cockerham, were among the many volunteers who helped with the tear down and reconstruction of a Tulsa family’s home.
“My daughter called to tell me Extreme Makeover was coming to Tulsa and that she and her husband were signing up as volunteers,” Tull told KUSH on the Terrific Tuesday edition of the Donna and Molly Show. “I thought it sounded like a lot of fun so I signed up, too.
The family – Amy and Toen Starkweather and their three sons, Jared, 15, Ryan, 13, and Ethan, 9 – learned last Thursday they had been selected for the Extreme Makeover Home Edition. They were nominated for the show by the Make A Wish Foundation. Ethan Starkweather has Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes weak muscle tone, constant hunger, and weak metabolism. Ethan is also a spokesperson for the Make A Wish Foundation.
It was after that announcement that Ashley realized she knew the family and the struggles they face, which made the project even more meaningful.
“Amy had found a couple of puppies beside the road and had placed an ad looking for someone to adopt them,” Tull said. “Ashley responded, taking both of them, and had kept in touch with the family to give updates on how the puppies were doing. She was so excited when she found out it was them.”
Once the family left the house, Tull and the other volunteers moved in to pack, stack, tear down and rebuild their home.
“It was incredible,” she said, still in amazement. “From the time we started packing their things, to the time the place was empty was about 4 hours.”
Tull said professional movers were there to give proper packing instructions, but volunteers did most of the work.
“It looked like a bunch of ants,” she laughed.
Outside the weather wrecked havoc – freezing rain, ice pellets and snow – delaying the foundation being poured.
“The schedule changed like the weather,” Tull said.
In spite of the challenges, she said spirits remained high. “The team work was amazing.”
She went on to say the experience was one she will never forget. “I’ve always like helping others, but this makes me want to do more.”
But first – the big reveal. That moment when the family gets to see their new home for the first time. “I can’t wait,” Tull said smiling, “until they ‘MOVE THAT BUS!"”
The reveal was scheduled for approximately 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, Feb. 3rd. The episode will air sometime in March on ABC. Be sure to look for Debra Tull – she’ll be the one in the blue t-shirt and hard hat.