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Ok, I’ll admit it: I was never a huge fan of the ABC reality show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I would catch it from time to time, but my Sunday evenings used to revolve around Desperate Housewives and the Kardashians.

That all changed a couple of months ago when I got a chance to get a firsthand look at the making of the show. How? Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came to Fayetteville, and I was lucky enough to head up the media team on behalf of our client, the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. I got to see for myself what goes on behind-the-scenes to produce a 60-minute show that airs on primetime television. We’re talking about months and months of advance planning, lots of which has to take place under a veil of secrecy before the show even announces it’s coming to town. Then, once the official announcement is made, there’s lots more work to be done before the recipient family is announced: volunteer coordination, special event planning, sponsor and donor coordination, marketing and promotions, fundraising, and media outreach of course. If you think things calm down once the family is announced, you’re wrong: that’s when things really get cranked up to full speed. The week of the build is a whirlwind of 24-hour-a-day activity on every front you can imagine. And don’t forget temperatures in Fayetteville hovered around 100 degrees during that entire week!

You would think a grueling schedule and tough conditions like this would all get to be a bit much for the cast and crew of the show. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Everyone on the Extreme team had a permanent smile on their face. They almost always had a minute to speak to an adoring fan or a member of the media. And when they talked about Barbara Marshall and the Jubilee House, the recipients of the new house, it was obvious that they do what they do because they love it. Their passion and dedication drives them to work faster, longer and harder than most people probably dream of doing. It drives them to not mind that they haven’t showered in days and to not remember that they haven’t had on a clean set of clothes in days. It drives them to view what they do on a daily basis as far more than just a job.

The Extreme team truly is changing lives and communities one home at a time. I’m honored that I had the chance to play a small part in that for a brief time this summer.

So now, come Sunday night, you better believe I’ll be curled up on my couch watching my new favorite reality show.

by Leah Knepper Brand Futurist Rubberneck Propaganda Specialist

Photo Credit: Charles Howard via Extreme Makeover: Home Edition