To the members of the Woodhouse family, it seemed too good to be true. In front of them was a brand new home built for them by the TV Show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
It’s been a long road for the Woodhouse family. Kayla, age 10, suffers from a rare neurological disease where her body lacks the ability to regulate temperature or feel pain. Cooling functions, such as sweating, don’t kick in until her body reaches a lethally high temperature. Kayla is one of only a handful of people nationwide with incurable hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy. She must wear a special vest with cold packs, can only go outside after sundown and the house thermostat must stay below 62 degrees.
Keller Williams Realtor, Jeff Morrell,l first met the family several years ago when he and his team helped them relocate from Alaska to Colorado Springs. Originally from Louisiana, the Woodhouses had moved to the cooler climate of Alaska but found that the medical facilities were lacking to treat their daughter’s rare disorder.
Kayla’s mother, Kim, homeschools Kayla and her 12-year-old brother, Josh, and gave private vocal and piano lessons just to help ends meet. To keep their eligibility for state health coverage, she had to quit giving music lessons, which meant that they couldn’t afford to stay in their house.
Morrell and the Woodhouses had become friends, and learning of their predicament, he, along with his partner John Unzueta, and other agents in the office began organizing a series of fundraisers to assist the family with their high medical bills — a rummage sale, a bake sale, a golf tournament and donating portions of their sales commissions.
As if the HSAN wasn’t challenging enough, Kayla was also diagnosed with a rare condition called chiari malformation of the brain. In September of 2006, she underwent brain decompression surgery to alleviate the problem.
Even with the Keller Williams fundraisers, because of the burden of high medical bills for Kayla, the family’s home was in danger of foreclosure this past spring. Jeremy Woodhouse is an assistant pastor for the Falcon Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. His church family donated a home site for the family and entered them into the TV contest for the new home.
This summer, Morrell learned that the show’s producers were strongly considering the Woodhouse family but they wanted their existing home sold first. Morrell stepped in again, and at no cost to them, got their house sold. “That set in motion a whirlwind of activities that resulted in getting their new house built for them in only a week’s time,” explains Morrell. Keller Williams agents, volunteers from the Air Force Academy and others pitched in to help the crew of the TV show complete the house.
At a Colorado Regional Keller Williams meeting in late September, the hat was passed for the Woodhouse family and within 10 minutes, agents from all over the state had donated a total of $14,000 to the family.
The Woodhouses’ new home is in Premier Homes’ new subdivision, located east of Colorado Springs. A special feature of the home that was built to help Kayla is a highpowered cooling system to keep the temperature at or below 62 degrees year-round. An alarm goes off if the temperature gets above 62 and there’s also a back-up system for times when the power goes out. Because the family can’t go out to enjoy life as many people can, the builder brought some of those things indoors to them. The basement features a bowling lane, an ice cream shop and a “drive-in” movie theater complete with old cars.
The show featuring the Woodhouse family and their new home is scheduled to air on ABC-TV on Sunday, January 13th. Meanwhile, the Woodhouse family is enjoying their new home, and thanking God and so many generous volunteers for their help.