By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
Thousands of people from across Central Texas converged upon rural Salado Sunday to shout "Move that bus!" and get a peek at the newest "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" home.
Staff of the ABC TV show announced only last Monday that they would be building a home on Hester Way for Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, who was critically wounded during the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting at Fort Hood, and his then-fiancee, Jessica Hansen.
Droves of volunteers, including many Fort Hood soldiers, worked throughout the week to convert an empty lot into a home for Zeigler and Hansen, who wed early Sunday at a chapel at Fort Hood prior to the unveiling.
Crowds of volunteers in blue shirts, Zeigler supporters and die-hard "Extreme Makeover" fans waited for hours on an American-flag-lined street in the Mill Creek housing development for the Zeiglers to arrive and view their home for the first time, when a parked orange "Extreme Makeover" bus would pull past the house in its signature fashion, revealing it to the couple.
After several false alarms and mandatory trial takes, "Home Makeover" host Ty Pennington emerged from the production compound just before the Zeiglers pulled up beside the bus in a white Rolls Royce with a red, white and blue "Just Married" sign on the license plate.
The crowd went wild as they stepped out of the car, he in his Army dress blue uniform and she in an ivory-colored, double V-neck satin dress with an extravagant bustle and a deep blue shawl.
Both of their families were present, and Mrs. Zeigler's three bridesmaids wore golden, knee-length dresses and carried white roses.
After the "big reveal" and a prayer before entering the house, Mrs. Zeigler helped her husband inside in his wheelchair. Hit four times in the Fort Hood shooting, including once in the head, Zeigler spent the better part of the year in the hospital and is still recovering. By guest accounts, Zeigler stood for the duration of the wedding ceremony, however.
The reportedly 2,800-square-foot house is a classic, stone, Texas-style house with modern beaming in the front, its driveway framed by two large agave plants. The interior is modern, with red accents and kitchen cabinets.
The house also features a workout room to further aid Zeigler is his recovery, volunteer Regina Powell, 41, of Harker Heights, said.
"My family thinks I'm crazy," she said of her week-long volunteer stint and incessant chatter about "Extreme Makeover."
But it was to be expected, her son, Mitchel Powell, 18 said.
"She's watched this show since it's been on, so as soon as it came to town, of course, she was in on it," he said.
"It's a lifetime experience, that's for sure," she said.
For Fort Hood's 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, volunteering offered a chance to give back and train at the same time, Lt. Col. Corey Spencer, battalion commander, said. "We just heard about it on the news and we were interested because we have plumbers, carpenters, electricians and technical skills that a general person couldn't provide."
About 70 battalion soldiers volunteered over the course of the week, he said, atypically applying their skills to the residential realm.
"We were really motivated and happy to do something great," Spencer said. "It was a win-win for us."
The nonprofit organization Operation Finally Home bought the Salado lot, said staff member Stefan Wohl, in addition to the adjacent lot for a future project. Texas-based Tilson Home Corp., the Texas Association of Builders and about 2,000 other volunteers built the home.
Neighborhood resident Amy Biddle, 49, watched the house being built and is happy to welcome the Zeiglers to Salado, she said. "We're here to support them."
The show is expected to air sometime in the next six to eight weeks, possibly around Valentine's Day. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on ABC.
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.