LOCK HAVEN - Can you imagine?
It's an average day in the middle of June. There's a knock at your door and you answer it to find Ty Pennington, star of of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, standing there. He tells you his team is going to build you a new house.
For Lock Haven University student Brian Keefer, this was not a figment of his imagination. It was really happening and it was just the start of a wonderful outpouring of love and support from the television show and hundreds of people for the young man paralyzed from the waist down in an accident three years ago.
Not only is the Keefer family getting a makeover of their home near York this week, but a team from the popular television show is also renovating the lounge area of Woolridge Hall on the LHU campus to meet Brian's needs.
The campus was full of excitement Tuesday morning when dozens of local volunteers dressed in the show's distinct royal blue T-shirts showed up to meet Extreme Makeover staff and begin their work inside the dorm.
Show Producer Ann Hill met the volunteers outside of Woolridge Hall and they responded with shouts of enthusiasm.
Also on hand was project designer and former Bachelorette star Jillian Harris, who will oversee the projects in York and Lock Haven, and the camera crew that is capturing every segment.
This project will be the premier episode of season nine of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition expected to air Sept. 25.
"I've been around for eight episodes and this is definitely one of the most touching stories I've heard. Brian is such a wonderful guy," Harris said.
The story begins in 2008. On July 1, just 12 days before his 21st birthday, Brian, an active athlete, suffered a tragic gymnastics injury that left him paralyzed from his neck down. Brian requires 24-7 care and complex equipment to maintain good health.
In a situation that might devastate others, Brian never lost his positive outlook, good natured spirit and determination to go to college.
Brian's father, Steve Keefer, gave up his career at a distribution post for the military and became Brian's primary care aid. When Brian decided to attend LHU, Steve went with him. For the past two years, Brian has enjoyed life at LHU as any other college student would.
His outgoing personality eventually led him to becoming the Homecoming King for the 2010 year.
Now, all of his hard work is being rewarded by the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew. While half of the team and a host of volunteers work on the new, fully wheelchair accessible home in Newberry Township, the rest of the team and more than 60 local volunteers are renovating the student recreation area in the basement of Woolridge Hall on North Fairview Street.
As the team arrived Tuesday morning, Harris chatted with Linda Koch, vice president of Student Affairs, and the two lead cameras on a tour of Woolridge Hall, where Brian was a resident.
"The final design will be really awesome," said Harris. "We are using a lot of color. It will be fun and modern and a really cool space for Brian and his friends to hang out. We have so many people helping out. The design team and I worked together to make sure that everything was perfect before we start ... but it's the volunteers who really make it all possible."
The volunteers and production team are lucky because they have been given the same amount of time for the room as allowed for the house, which will take around a week to complete, she said.
"It's great to have that much time and not be super rushed," Harris said. "There is so much scheduling that goes into this ... as well as breaks for the volunteers, food and safety precautions."
The teams will work non-stop until the project is completed, according to Harris, who will drive back and forth to York to oversee both projects.
Harris said she has learned a lot from Brian and his family.
"There is just something about them. The moment Brian came through the door I could just feel this positive energy he has," she said. "And his family is so wonderful. The support they give him and to each other really sets an example that other families could learn from. I want to model their support and values with my own family some day."