Family gets 'Extreme Makeover' in the far north

Posted: Monday, July 24, 2006

FAIRBANKS - The Rogers family would have been more than thrilled if their week consisted of nothing more than a trip to Disneyland.

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But coming home to a new house last weekend was even better.

After hours of filming for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," when the family got the first glimpse inside their new home on Friday, July 14, the site around the Anton Avenue home was finally quieting down the next afternoon. Some of the Rogers brothers were able to gather with friends and tell them about their week. The friends told the brothers how their house was created in the last six days with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

Jon Rogers said it was exciting to have strangers and friends, including current and former members of the Eielson High School football team, in the crowd as the family arrived home to cheers.

"It was heartwarming and really made it easy," he said. "We really felt the love there."

Jon Rogers attends Central Washington University and said it's hard leaving his family to return to school. Having a new house for his family, he said, takes some of the pressure and worry off when he's far away.

"It's extremely hard," he said. "I love it here. Going away is extremely hard because this is where I want to be. I try to handle as much as I can from there, but this definitely brings some relief."

Betsy was near-speechless when she talked to media after camera crews showed up on her door to tell her she was selected for the show. She was a different kind of shocked later on.

"Now I'm just imagining living in the house," she said.

She said she's seen the show, but didn't allow herself to think about how her house might look. She did admit she was hesitant the house might feel generic. But even with a crowd of hundreds looking on, Betsy said when she first saw the house Friday night, she felt peace.

"It felt like home," she said.

Betsy said she was also hesitant when she heard the family was nominated. She said she knew her previous two-bedroom home was modest, but she works hard to provide for her family. She had some 'misplaced pride' about not wanting to be on the show, she said.

"But I came to understand over the process that this was being offered as a true gift," she said.

A gift of more than 1,000 volunteers, builders and local businesses, many who don't know the Rogers. Betsy used the word "humbled" and "grateful" but said those words only brush the surface of the feelings she has toward the community.

"For me, it has created such a sense of strength in the community. I had no doubt where I wanted to live and raise my children," she said. "But you've got to come up with a word past 'gratitude' and 'humbled' to explain it."

And she said she's excited for the episode to air, not to show off her new house, but to show off North Pole and Fairbanks.

"I think ABC was very lucky to come see how AK does it."

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Information from: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com



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