EMHE: The Blog

September 17, 2008
Toledo Loves to Give
Well, the bus has been moved, the Frisch family is home, and the excitement is over. But is it? Monday brought an 11 a.m. press conference with yet more surprises for Aaron, Jackie, and the boys.

All I can say about the gifts presented to the family at the press conference is, "WOW!" Gifts ranged from the most amazing -- 11 college educations from the University of Toledo valued at $250,000 -- to fun and useful, like school supplies and gift cards. The Frisch family was really touched, and Jackie was very genuine and eloquent when she thanked the crowd.

I couldn't make it to the press conference, but Debi Lewis from my office spoke with teachers and students from Central Elementary in Sylvania, where Tim Schlachter's kids attend. They raised money all week, and the teachers took the kids to Meijer to spend $2,000 of the money they raised. The students shopped for indoor and outdoor games, books, art & school supplies, family movie DVD's, a camera, photo printer, photo paper, ink for the printer, family photo albums, frames for family pictures, and $200 in gift cards. The kids selected the merchandise because "they know what kids like." Student council representatives were at the press conference to present their gifts. Those kids were stoked, and so were the teachers who accompanied them.

Check out these photos of the press conference, taken by Rosie Boger.

I can't list all of the gifts here, but some additional ones you may be interested in are:

  • a 3-day visit to Kalahari Waterpark in Sandusky, donated by ReMax Executives
  • Wendy's food for a year, donated by Wendy's
  • $2,000 scholarship per year per child, renewable up to 4 years, donated by Lourdes College
  • Comprehensive eye exams for the entire family, glasses or contacts if necessary, donated by Pinnacle Eye Group
  • Pizza for a year, Marco's Pizza and Papa John's
  • Checks from Washington Local, Timberstone Junior High, St. Francis De Sales High School, and St. Rose Catholic Schools
  • Dentistry for the entire family, donated by Dr. Jon Frankel
  • Backpack for each child with school supplies, donated by Office Max
  • Tax service for 2 years, donated by Spillman & Hills
  • Lawn mowing once per week, donated by Oliver's Green Scape

In addition, the concert at Centennial Terrace on September 7th raised $45,000 for the family, and area schools and businesses sponsored independent fundraisers to help the family.

Wow. I'll say it again. Wow.

And so ends my Extreme Makeover: Home Edition saga, the tale of the house that Toledo built for the Frisch family, and some of the stories behind it. I don't know that Toledo has seen a week like this before, or will again. It's been fun.

September 16, 2008
Of Boys and Busses

On Saturday afternoon, the designers were let loose on the Frisch home. It certainly didn't look like there was any problem at all for The Buckeye Real Estate Group to meet their deadline for handing over the keys: Mike and Tim and the guys looked cool as cucumbers waiting for the appointed hour. No mad rush. If I hadn't seen it myself all week, watching the house go up step by step, I don't think I REALLY would have believed it could be done so well, so quickly.

What the designers do inside the house is the magic, secret stuff. I got a glimpse of a bit of it, but you'll have to wait for the full show to air to really know what went into the rooms. I can't wait to see it! I imagine most of Toledo will be glued to their TV sets this Wednesday, September 17, for WTVG's hour-long special on the building of our Extreme Makeover Toledo home. I'm recording it, aren't you? Maybe that will hold us over until the actual Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode airs in November-- now THAT is going to be fantastic.

Meet 2 of the Frisch boys
Do you keep hearing that the Frisch kids are good kids? Good in school, good to each other, just good, nice kids? Here are some things I found about 2 of them:

I spoke with both Judy Frisch, Aaron's mom, and Penny Case, a close family friend called "Pinny" by the kids, about the Frischs' 18-year-old son, Moise (called Moe). It seems that Moe, who ran track for Whitmer and was 4th in the state for the 800 meter, recently won a Silver Medal at the 42nd USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Championships in Omaha, Nebraska. (Penny said the entire family went along to cheer Moe on, staying in two hotel rooms, where they fit like puzzle pieces, sleeping on the floor.) The USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships is the largest and most visible youth athlete developmental program in the world. Moe ran the 800 meter in 1:52.95, missing first place by .26 seconds. Ask him about the Olympics in four years -- what do you think, Moe?

Penny also told me about Blade's interest in working with special education, and how the 15-year-old Frisch helps a local family with their autistic son. Blade meets the boy at the school bus and stays with him after school and occasionally on weekends. While the family appreciates the help, Penny says it's the autistic boy who benefits the most; she says he loves it when Blade stays with him, and he lights up when he sees that it's Blade meeting him at the bus stop. What a caring thing for a teenager to do! It sounds like Jackie and Aaron might be raising some good kids there.

Move that bus!
Sunday, it seemed like most of Toledo was in the neighborhood to help the bus driver "move that bus." Hundreds of us stood around in the scorching sun for hours while the production crew set up for the shot and filmed crowd scenes. It was all worth the days and days of hard work and the nights of too little sleep and the jostling crowds when the bus moved and we could see the family's reaction to their new home. Could you or anyone near you keep a dry eye? I couldn't.


September 14, 2008
The Rain and the House and Other Things

Friday it drizzled a lot of the day, but it didn't seem to matter too much. Sure, there was a lot of mud, but it actually seemed to help with the plants and all the landscaping that was going in – it was really lush and green looking. I heard that the paint wasn't drying well with all the humidity. And it must be true: there's a lovely color of fresh paint (I'm not going to tell you what color it is!) on my new Buckeye/Extreme Makeover jacket from where I brushed up against a wall when I was inside the new Frisch home this morning. Dang!

Speaking of the inside of the house, the kitchen cabinets were in this morning. They're from major sponsor KraftMaid, who supplies cabinetry for all Extreme Makeover projects. Kim Craig, Director of Communications for KraftMaid, told me the company has been involved with every build except the pilot. They supply every cabinet in the house: kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, laundry rooms, media centers, kids' rooms, home offices, whatever the family needs. That's a lot of cabinets!

I asked Kim why KraftMaid, an Ohio company owned by local Masco Corporation in Taylor, Michigan, has stayed with Extreme Makeover for so long. For herself, Kim said being involved with the program has been an incredible blessing: she gets to make a difference, to work for a company that believes in giving back, to be part of a show that's wholesome and real. For KraftMaid, it's been a "good match." They think it's neat, they like the involvement with the community, with giving back, the tremendous spirit of the show, and the fact that they can get their employees involved. Kim says it doesn't happen so much anymore, because their Extreme Makeover orders are kept more secret as they go through their factory than in the early days of the show, but when it's found out that a certain cabinet order is for an Extreme Makeover family, KraftMaid workers will tuck handwritten notes into the cabinets for the family to find. They write things like, "Good luck in your new home. We're proud to be a part of it."

Oh, and wait until you hear about this, I thought this was really interesting. I got an email from Jeff Schultz asking if he could dry clean the family's clothes for them! His company, The Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network has helped Extreme Makeover families for Seasons 4 and 5 and now is helping with Season 6. The company's local crew picked up 70 bags of the family's clothing before the old home was demolished, cleaned them, and will return them freshly cleaned for their new home . . .this will be the 49th Exteme Makeover family they've done this for. Cool, huh?

Jeff's company specializes in helping homeowners who have had a fire, flood, or other disaster by restoring clothing and other fabric items like window treatments, bedding, shoes, purses, stuffed animals, etc.

Did you get an Extreme Makeover ball cap yet? Boy, have they been popular! Please thank Directions Credit Union for making the hats available for sale, with proceeds helping to make the Frisch family's dream come true. As a lead sponsor, Directions also made a financial donation to help cover some of the costs of the project that were unable to be donated. On top of that, Directions is selling "Hearts & Hands for Heroes" logos in all 20 locations and serving as a collection point for donations to the family. They were a part of the Fundraising Concert this past Sunday by selling tickets and having over 35 staff members volunteering, including their Mascot "Sparkles." See Sparkles in my photo section.

Directions was originally approached by The Buckeye Real Estate Group to help underwrite some of the costs of the project, and Brenda Covrett, AVP Marketing, told me it was an easy decision for them. They are thrilled to be a part of the project and happy to help this deserving family.

Directions staff has really jumped in with both feet. . . or should I say Hearts & Hands? In celebration of the build, staff in all 20 locations are wearing their Hearts & Hands for Heroes shirts each day this week to help spread the message and to help raise money for the family. Look for them in my photo section, too!

It rained HARD on Saturday before the key exchange, when the builder handed the keys over to the designers. More on that later.

September 12, 2008
Helping the Frisch Family with Mealtimes and Song

Wednesday evening when I left the EMHE site, they were framing the house. By Thursday afternoon, men were walking on the shingled roof, siding was almost complete, power was on inside the house, and drywall was in the finishing stages. If you're at the site for much time at all, it's like watching fast-action photography going on right before your eyes. None of us will ever be content again to watch a house go up the traditional way; we'll all want to call the guys in the blue shirts!

A Donation with Many Parts
I spent some time in the VIP tent with Brenda Bennett, VP Consumer Marketing with Libbey Inc., asking her about Libbey's role in the project. Brenda and her orange-shirted crew from Libbey have been manning the very cool VIP tent all week; check out how great the VIP tent SMELLS. With the wonderful snacks for guests and the bright flowers on the tables, my nose is pretty happy in there. There's also a pretty neat silent auction organized by Libbey employees, with proceeds going to the Frisch family.

Brenda told me that Libbey was first approached to supply the new Frisch home with product-- flatware, glasses, dinnerware, storage containers, bakeware, and vases. Mealtime is important to this large family-- they enjoy family meals together frequently. So Libbey wanted to make their gift to the family something that would add to that experience, by providing things that the kids will have fun with, and Mom and Dad would love, too. They also looked at the fact that it was a family of 11 boys, so they chose their Syracuse brand, which stands up to heavy restaurant use and commercial dishwashing. That should work for a house full of energetic boys!

Then the word spread internally about the EMHE project, and Libbey people started asking about getting involved, too. When the opportunity came up to manage the VIP tent, they saw the chance for Libbey employees to give back to the community, which is consistent with their corporate philosophy. Libbey has been a regular contributor to the United Way, the Toledo Museum of Art, and COSI.

This led to the company's decision to get involved in yet a bigger way by becoming a sponsor donor with a monetary gift to the Extreme Makeover project. Libbey decided it would take the entire community to make this dream happen for Jackie and Aaron Frisch and their children, and their multi-faceted commitment is a huge step in that direction.

As if all this wasn't enough, Libbey Creative Director Robert Zollweg designed a "Hearts and Hands" painting for the family that volunteers, spectators, and crew are adding to, dab by dab. When finished, this painting, which will have been painted by many of us throughout the week, will be presented to Jackie, Aaron, and the kids. Check out a photo of the painting in my photo section.

An Unstoppable Young Man
While in the VIP tent, I met Nathan Watt from Sylvania and his mother, Diana. Nathan, a member of America's Pride, a youth group that promotes a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle, was originally scheduled to sing at the fundraising concert last Sunday at Centennial Terrace, but was cut from the program because of time constraints.

Lucky for the VIPs, Nathan agreed to sing at the VIP tent during dinner instead. He was really good! I heard him singing and playing the guitar when I was talking to Brenda Bennett and decided I just had to talk to him.

Nathan agreed to let me share a few words from one of his songs, "Unstoppable," which he co-wrote with his mom, Diana:

"I am unstoppable, a life where nothing is impossible, I'm facing life with faith, courage, strength, and a little help from my friends."

Born with spina bifida, Nathan has had 46 operations. He has won the international Simon Foundation's Defeating Stigma in Health Care award, and Outstanding Youth of the Year from the World Drug Prevention Conference.

He and his family won the Sunday evening concert raffle: four VIP passes for every day of Extreme Makeover week, plus a tour of the finished house before the family comes home.

My day ended late last night behind the Frisch home as the fire department pumper truck fed a hose to the newly dug and landscaped prayer pond in the backyard. Very cool. There's a different perspective from back there, and the yard looks larger than you'd expect with that big house taking up all that room.

Speaking of prayer, pray that the rain doesn't hamper us too much today.

September 11, 2008
It's Sort of Like Watching a Candle Flame, the Way It Takes You In

Wednesday was amazing at the EMHE site. It felt so good to see the new Frisch family house rising out of what was just a pile of rubble yesterday. I watched the crew do the framing and begin putting up some walls, and realized I could really see the shape of the house and imagine how it really could be a house for 13 people really could fit in there and work with the neighborhood. And it was mesmerizing to watch it grow and change so quickly.

If you haven't been out to the site, it's difficult to know what the atmosphere is really like. There's a palpable electricity in the air, something you can breathe in and feel in your bones. If you go, take a moment to just stand and take it all in, to watch the house as you would watch the flicker of a candle flame, and you'll feel it, too. It's difficult to pull yourself away.

I stopped by the volunteer food tent to shoot some photos, and was told by a laughing crew not to take Gus Mancy's photo, that his wife was the real boss. But Gus looked great flipping those steak burgers he was serving up today, so you'll find his photo along with the food service volunteers in the group of photos I shot today. Mancy's Restaurant and Mancy-owned Shorty's Grill were responsible for the food today for the volunteers. That steak burger was goooood!

Click here to see my photos

I saw Tim Schlachter build a "something" at the very cool kid's party at the VIP tent that he said took him 105 hours. . . one hour less than the house build is supposed to take. Muddy and Muddonna from the Mud Hens were there looking smashing, of course, and the kids looked very busy with projects. This was one well attended party! Brenda Bennett and Robert Zollweg from Libbey Inc. did a great job with the VIP area, which major sponsor Libbey mans all week. Libbey is also supplying the glass and tableware for the new Frisch home. I'll have to talk some more with Brenda about that. . . I'd like her perspective on Libbey's involvement and why the company embraced this project so thoroughly. Look for the Libbey team in the bright orange shirts and tell them I said hello!

I'll be back out there tomorrow. See you there!

September 10, 2008
Trailers, Marches, Demolition, and Donations (and Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh, My!)

I hardly know where to begin. I was at the site most of the day Tuesday in my role as marketing support to The Buckeye Real Estate Group and as part of the media team, and didn't get back to my computer to post anything other than the letter from designer Rib Hillis. Hopefully one of the things I worked on yesterday will rectify this problem, as we were able to get a media/communications trailer placed on site, which means I don't have to keep running back to my office to write and upload these updates!

I have to give a big thank you to some people who made this happen for us in just a few hours: first, Neil and Jeff at Northwest Ohio RV Sales in Findlay gave us a great deal on a beautiful 35' trailer -- whoo hoo! Then, Brooks Insurance performed the impossible and got it insured for us in just a few hours. Ok, so now we have a trailer and insurance, but the trailer is in Findlay, not in Toledo -- and we need a ¾ ton truck and a driver to get it here. So I called my friend and client Bob Borcherdt, owner of Midwest Paper Specialties Company -- and Bob ended up driving there himself with Ryan Bauman, his brother-in-law, owner of Karnik Memorial Garden pet cremation service, who just happened to have the right truck! Midwest also donated the hand sanitizer stations at the Extreme Makeover building site, so say a "thank you" to Bob for your clean hands. And if you see a beautiful truck wrapped 360 degrees with blue sky, a golden retriever, and a kitty, wave to Ryan in his very cool Karnik truck.

The Braveheart March
The morning started early with the Braveheart March, so called because the builder and his team march to the site along with his contractors, hootin' and hollerin' on the way to the demolition of the family home, similar to the way Mel Gibson led his troops in a scene from the movie "Braveheart", and it's a regular part of every Extreme Makeover episode. It was awesome. The Buckeye team was preceded by the Toledo Firefighter's Pipes and Drums (thanks to Deputy Chief Brian Byrd, a kilt-wearing member of the group, for helping me get these facts straight) and the Toledo Firefighter's Honor Guards, looking very spiffy. After the builders and trades came a fire department ladder truck and 3 bright red engines, screaming their sirens and flashing their lights, filled with over 100 Toledo firefighters. All told, there were over 500 marchers. We were a sight to behold!

The loud and colorful procession ended at the Frisch home, where the marchers gathered in a circle at the cul-de-sac. Ty Pennington, with his designers, filmed himself and the builders, Tim Schlachter and Mike White, giving a message to Jackie and Aaron Frisch and the boys. Aaron's former Life Squad partner, Kathy Zeller, Aaron's parents, and Fire Chief Michael Wolever also said a few words to the family. Aaron's mother, Judy Frisch, ended by thanking everyone and leading the crowd in the Lord's Prayer.

Then, they let the firefighters loose on the house! They hacked at the roof and front of the house with hatchets and chain saws as the crowd went crazy -- it was too cool. Finally the big equipment came in to finish the job. I'm exhausted just telling you about it.

Check out my photos!

And don't forget, even if you didn't get an opportunity to volunteer for the project, you can still help the family by making a donation at one of the Directions Credit Union locations around town or online. Hats and t-shirts will be available for purchase at the shuttle drop-off point at the building site beginning today. If they're not there yet, please be patient! The demand has been high and we're reprinting them as fast as we can!

Also, please forgive me for not commenting on this blog. A technical glitch is preventing me from doing so -- we're working on it.

More later!

September 9, 2008
A Letter From Rib Hillis

Do you all know Rib Hillis, one of the designers from the show? He passed this letter to me through the producer, Diane Korman:

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." -- Winston Churchill.

I have been inspired.

A near and dear friend of mine has just been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. His name is Bob. I would like to show him my support and make his life a little more hopeful. His strength and that of his friends and family has been my inspiration in searching for a way to make a difference. I have joined forces with the Hendrick Marrow Program & the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP). The Hendrick Marrow Program is currently working with the Jimmie Johnson?Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation on a nationwide campaign called The NASCAR Foundation Blood and Marrow Drive to encourage people to give blood and join the NMDP Registry of volunteer marrow donors. Typically there is a fee to join the Registry, but through this campaign, individuals can join for FREE because of sponsorship from the Hendrick Marrow Program and Nationwide Foundation. If you are interested, you are welcome to send this link to everyone you know and ask them to join the Registry because they may be able to help a patient just like my friend Bob. I am hoping to spread the word on this unbiased disease. I would like to give back and hopefully motivate or inspire someone else to do the same. This is where the journey begins and I am excited and honored to be a part of this life saving event.

Please follow the link avove and register with the NMDP. It only takes a minute. From September 9 to September 22, registration is free.

Thank you,
Rib Hillis

September 8, 2008
It's The Calm Before the Storm

When I got to the Frisch neighborhood this morning, all I could think was, "Whoa! This doesn't look like Kansas anymore, Toto!" The area has been turned into a little city, with trailers and trucks and tents set up everywhere. The movers were moving in and out of the Frisch house, packing up their belongings, and the buzz of chain saws cut through the air, as trees were cut and trimmed in the back yard.

See the pictures I took today.

Still, everything was relatively calm and still. The builders, Mike and Tim, called it the calm before the storm.

Meet The Toledo Fire and Rescue Department
I talked to a great group of folks from The Toledo Fire and Rescue Department, who were happy to give me the scoop on their friend and colleague, Aaron Frisch.

Here's what I heard: "He's one of the nicest guys," "He's very soft spoken and never gets rattled, so you'd never guess that he's won gold medals in martial arts at the Police and Fire Olympics," "Yeah, it's like he's got one of those 'Clark Kent' things going on," "I have a lot of respect for him," "He's a good medic, and he works at the busiest life squad in the county – at one time, it was the busiest in the nation," and "He's very organized. I was at McDonald's with my 2 kids and I was having trouble keeping them under control, and Aaron walks in with his 11 kids, and I was amazed at how orderly they all were – made me think twice about not being able to do that with just 2!"

The firefighters all said they were surprised by the news that Aaron and his wife were chosen by Extreme Makeover – they said they had no idea he was in the running for the show. But once they heard the news, most of them had the same reaction – "Of course! It should be Aaron Frisch!" These sentiments came from Lt. Glenn Newman and Lt. Tom Philips, both from the training academy, paramedic, instructor, and firefighter Terence Glaze, paramedic, instructor, and firefighter Barb Aldrich, and administrative assistant Stephanie Wilson.

The Fire and Rescue Department will be at the building site throughout the construction of the new house, providing basic EMS, advanced life support, fire suppression, and first aid services. Yesterday and today they're at their tent from 7 am to 7 pm, and the rest of the week they'll provide services around the clock, 24/7. Stop by and talk to these friendly folks! Tell them Marcia sent you. Later!

September 8, 2008
Extreme Makeover Door Knock Finds a Good Family and Good Neighbors

Whew! What a morning!

By now you know that Toledo's Extreme Makeover family is the Frisch family -- Jackie, an ordained minister, Aaron, a Toledo firefighter, and their 11 children: Moe, Joe, Benson, Max, Blade, Me'gail, Connor, Charlie, Cole, Mikail, and Isaiah. I got to meet them this morning and see what a happy, energetic family they are. And I think I got to know them just a bit better by talking with their neighbors and best friends, Teri and Eddie Smith.

The Smiths and Frischs became neighbors "on purpose" 4 years ago, thanks Connor Frisch, age 13, who prayed that the Smiths would be able buy the house next door. The families had known each other for over 12 years, when Teri and Jackie became best friends through their association with Calvary Bible Chapel.

These families are close! The kids have grown up together as brothers and sisters, they eat dinner together, they vacation together. And they have the same giving hearts, too-- the Smiths began fostering children soon after Jackie and Aaron adopted Isaiah, age 3.

Click here to see what the Smith family looks like: Mom Teri, Dad Eddie, 19-year-old twins Rachal and Rahnae, Doris, 18, Kayla, 17, Angela, 16, Zachary, 15, Ellice, 7, Eddie, 5, and 5-month-old Bob. Two of the children came back to live with the family after they were out of the foster system, two are in permanent placement, two are in the final stages of adoption, and baby Bob is being fostered. Wow!

So now you know a bit more about Toledo's Extreme Makeover family, too-- because you know a bit about their best friends.

Also last night: Benefit concert at Centennial Terrace! Fantastic show for a sold out crowd. Were you there? Did you see designer Paul DiMeo play with the band?

Check back tomorrow for an update from the construction site.


So Who Am I and What's This All About?
September 6, 2008

I'm Marcia Hoeck, president and CEO of Hoeck Associates, Inc., and I'm the official on-the-spot blogger for "EMHE: The Blog." I'll be bringing exciting behind-the-scenes updates of the action at the Toledo Extreme Makeover: Home Edition construction site to this site, as they happen! Visit the site often for my ongoing, informative posts and candid photos. Who knows what I'll find to show and tell?

I'll be at the new home build a lot, because my company is working hand-in-hand with The Buckeye Real Estate Group, the builder and lead contractor responsible for constructing the new home, as partner and marketing/PR agency for this episode of the show. You can learn more about us by visiting my marketing blog.

ABC Television will be in Toledo to film a new home being built for a deserving family in Toledo, September 7 - 14, 2008, and we're up to our eyeballs in the planning. The chosen family will be announced this Sunday, September 7th.

There's lots of excitement going on at Hoeck Associates these days as we work with Buckeye and ABC producers, organizing the zillions of details involved with an undertaking of this magnitude, including setting up plans for the 3,000 volunteers needed to complete the project. Hoeck Associates branded the build, "Hearts and Hands for Heroes," to coordinate with show's 2008-09 season theme, "Heroes in the Community."

We're so thrilled to be involved with Extreme Makeover, which has won back-to-back Emmy Awards as Best Reality Program (non-competitive), and does so much to demonstrate the spirit of generosity and service to others. And working with our friends at Buckeye makes it all the more special. And now, I'm writing a blog for 13abc's local ABC website! Are we lucky, or what?

Sunday September 7th is a big day, because Ty Pennington and his team of designers will be in Toledo for the "Door Knock," where the family is surprised with the news that they've been chosen. They're then whisked off on a dream vacation while plans are made to demolish the house. After that on Sunday, from 5 to 8 pm, a benefit concert is being held for the family at Centennial Terrace - you won't want to miss that! Toledo's own, nationally-acclaimed Sanctus Real is performing at this family friendly evening of fun, food, and music. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students with a family maximum of $40.

Don't forget to check back when the real action begins!

Your EMHE on-the-spot blogger,

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