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Hagerstown native helps 'Extreme Makeover'

February 23, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - As a team member on a home-makeover reality show set, Hagerstown native Ellery Hanlin said she saw some close calls, but the end result was no accident - a beautiful new home for a dancer with multiple sclerosis.

"It was absolutely fun. It was incredible to see how many came out to help, to volunteer or just to cheer everyone on," said Hanlin, a Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University engineering senior.

Hanlin, a 2001 graduate of North Hagerstown High School, was a member of a safety crew organized by professor Brian Kleiner to help on a construction site for ABC's "Extreme Makeover Home Edition," which airs on Sundays.

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Hanlin is the daughter of David Hanlin and stepdaughter of Donna Hanlin, both of Hagerstown, and the daughter of Deborah Matthews.

Crew members and volunteers rebuilt the home of Carol Crawford Smith, who has been active in the Virginia Tech community. Because Crawford Smith lives near campus in Blacksburg, Va., the show for the first time enlisted the help of college students and instructors, including the safety crew of about 50, Kleiner said.

"It was a great experience. We learned about safety and health, and we learned a lot about how to make these rapid construction projects (as) safe as they are fast," Kleiner said.

Crawford Smith said she was overwhelmed by the support shown to her and her family by the more than 4,000 volunteers who helped on the project.

"That really excites me that that many people would come together to help others," said Crawford Smith, the first coordinator of Virginia Tech's Black Cultural Center. "It excites me to think people would come together to help others, not just themselves."

The demolition, rebuild and first tours of the home were in early December, Crawford Smith said.

"It was magnificent to see for the first time," Crawford Smith said.

Hanlin said she watched the Feb. 12 airing of the home's construction with tears in her eyes. Though she does not know Crawford Smith, Hanlin said she could empathize with the woman who has danced with the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City.

An industrial and systems engineering student, Hanlin is considering going to graduate school to pursue manufacturing engineering.

Hanlin said she saw some close calls. At one point, the show's star, carpenter Ty Pennington, was inside the house, as it was being torn down, Hanlin said.

"It collapsed a roof, and he had to run out of the house in order to avoid being hit," Hanlin said.

Hanlin said she was amazed by the down-to-the-minute arrangements made by the show to be sure everything came off without a hitch.

"Those folks are professionals, the house turned out so well. It was one of those things where you could walk in the house and feel the quality," Hanlin said.

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