Thursday, March 19, 2009 | midnight
The house was complete and the volunteers and film crew were craning their necks in search of the stretch limousine carrying the Cerda family, waiting for it to round the corner so they could scream, "Move that bus!"
"When we turned the corner, we were blindfolded and we could hear the roar of the crowd from where we were and as we got closer, it got louder and louder. When we stepped out of the limo and saw everyone, I was just blown away," homeowner Chuck Cerda said.
Cerda, for the first time in the history of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," kissed the bus when he saw it blocking the view of his family's new house. The Cerdas were chosen because the condition of the house was threatening the weak immune systems of daughters Molly and Maggie, who have Combined Immune Deficiency Disease. The original house had mold in the walls as well as other allergens, structural problems and an outdated plumbing system.
"Our life is going to be different because the air inside this house is completely clean," Molly Cerda said. "That helps my lungs and will make us even healthier, to the point where we might not have to wear masks anymore."
The Cerda's home, which was demolished and rebuilt from the ground up in seven days, now has an HVAC system to filter the air more stringently than a regular heating and cooling system.
"Molly, in the old house, she would be coughing, hacking wheezing, having episodes where her lungs would actually shut down and we'd have to put her on a nebulizer to get them back up," Chuck Cerda said. "Within minutes of being in here, the realization hit Terri and I and we looked at each other and said, '... Molly is not having problems.'"
Terri Cerda said one of the biggest challenges old house presented was the feeling of being trapped inside because of the girls' disease. The family wasn't able to go to places like church or school, she said.
"It was an amazing experience to come home yesterday to realize we have a huge community," she said. "What this community did for us and the number of people that came out to be part of this, to me, is just so amazing ... and I can't say 'thank you' enough."
Hundreds of volunteers worked on the home. Many were part of the building process while others served drinks or donated furniture. Walker Furniture donated most of the furniture for the main rooms of the house and Alarmco donated three years of security service; Freedom exterminators gave the family one year of pest control, among other donations.
The girls were surprised to receive two oboes, a flute and $2,000 worth of music lessons from the Soroptimist International of Metropolitan Las Vegas. The girls' music teacher, Rachel Delgado, presented the family with a donated guitar and new electric piano.
The Cerdas said they keep finding new things they like about their new home. There is nothing they would change about it, they said.
"Our house before was not home ever at any point to us. We were still in boxes after five years of being in this house, we never moved into it," Terri Cerda said. "Thank you so much for giving us a home."
The Cerda family episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is expected to air May 10 on ABC.