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Jeff Gordon helps family in need

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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Jeff Gordon holds his daughter before the Fontana race
When it comes to the concept of reality television programs "Extreme Make Over: Home Edition", aired on Sunday nights on the ABC Network, seems to stand out. That's because of the positive emotional impacts it has on the people the show deals with each week.

That was certainly the case when four time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon made an appearance on this program this past Sunday night. On the program as a celebrity guest, Gordon visited the Suggs family of Loris-South Carolina and helped the show's team build them a badly needed new home.

Amanda and Derrick Suggs were in dire straits. During the course of family turmoil, they adopted Amanda's siblings to prevent them from being separated by the threat of being placed in the foster care system. The now large family resided in a tiny home Derrick inherited from his grandfather who originally built the house back in 1953.

To say that the Suggs home was dilapidated to the point of being dangerous would be a major understatement. There was massive ceiling damage from years of rain leaking through a badly worn roof. There was also major concerns with outdated and exposed electrical wiring, a rotting foundation as well as cracked asbestos siding on the exterior of the home. The show's designers really had their work cut out for them with this project.

The show's format calls for the residents of the selected homes to be sent on a family vacation. The Suggs were sent via a limo to the local airport to leave for a week to Walt Disney World in Orlando-Florida. However, it seemed that this departure was somewhat off schedule and time was of the essence. Imagine this family's surprise when none other than Jeff Gordon volunteered to make a fast run to the airport. When the show's producers realized that this family were huge NASCAR, and Jeff Gordon, fans they contacted him about appearing on the show. Gordon was only too happy to participate in the project.

It was also revealed that the Suggs family are big fans of the WWE-World Wrestling Entertainment. That brought the arrival of WWE superstars The Big Show, R-Truth and the beautiful Bella Twins to South Carolina to help rebuild the home.

Meanwhile in Orlando-Florida the family received the news that Gordon had made arrangements to extend their family. vacation. They were sent to the Daytona International Raceway for a very exclusive VIP tour that included on track ride-alongs.

In South Carolina the show's design and construction teams along with Gordon, the WWE wrestlers and a small army of Loris based friends and neighbors hit high gear and made quick work of demolishing the former home and raising the new one. That process included a completely new interior design and the placement of the home's new furnishings. All of this work was completed in an amazing seven days. Gordon later said he was amazed how fast this project came together and compared the element of team work to what it takes to win a NASCAR race.

But in the middle of this fast and furious work there were also some fun moments such as one of the show's construction designers challenging Gordon to a drag race in skip loaders. Gordon had some noticeable trouble getting his racer in gear but once he did he won the race at the top end.

Another fun moment was delivered by the WWE's Big Show. The seven foot giant wrestler was actually pushing nails through the wooden house frame with his over sized thumbs. When asked if he needed a hammer, he just smiled and said "no thank you I'm doing just fine."

But the grand finale of this show was the expression on the faces of the Suggs family when they walked into their new home for the first time. After being overwhelmed by the lavishly furnished living room and kitchen they inspected the bed rooms which were furnished to reflect the interest of the occupants. Also included in the package was a $25,000 special endowment fund, donated by the WWE, for future home maintenance.

One of those bedrooms actually had a custom painted front of a NASCAR stock car complete with a driver's seat and steering wheel. A flat screen television was installed in the car's front windshield area complete with the NASCAR video game. Above the car was the upper tier of a bunk bed.

Yours truly fell in love with this special bed but was quickly told by the girlfriend that there was no way we were placing a race car in the bedroom. I was also quickly reminded that we are both getting tool old to be climbing bunk bed ladders.

Even Jeff Gordon was overcome with emotion as he watched the Suggs family tour their new home. He later admitted that he really wasn't prepared for the tidal wave of emotion that came with that sight.

Jeff Gordon is well known for being one of the NASCAR good guys. He has often found time in his busy schedule to lend his name and presence to worthy causes. This is especially true of the Jeff Gordon Foundation which places its focus on the medical needs of young children.

Jeff Gordon deserves a checkered flag for helping out this family in South Carolina. So does the WWE, the entire cast of "Extreme Make Over Home Edition" as well those friends and neighbors who lent a helping hand.

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