EXTREME CARING

EXTREME MAKEOVER: Home Edition, the popular Sunday evening TV show at 8 p.m. on ABC should be extremely interesting this Sunday, Nov. 8 to Barnesville folk and all who know the Timmons family. No, Aggie Timmons', lovely home on West Main Street is not the subject of the home makeover on this show, but her daughter, Susan Timmons Busler has had a vital role in the creation of this week's focus. She submitted the story to the producers and it was accepted.

WE ASKED Sue to send us the details. She did so beautifully, we felt her own words tell the story best. Here it is:

In October 2008, I began the process of nominating James Terpenning and his family for ABC's television show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." I had worked with James at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for six years before I retired as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve. He was a civil servant working as an Information Technology Specialist in Aeronautical Systems Center Headquarters where we both worked. James was a gifted computer specialist, in addition to being an all'round great guy with a servant's heart. I called him "rolling sunshine" because of his sunny disposition and positive outlook on life.

James needed a new home, and he also had a compelling "story" that I hoped would qualify him for the show. Here are the highlights: James was born in Viet Nam, the son of an American GI father and a Vietnamese mother. He was put in an orphanage at birth where he contracted polio as a young child. He was also injured by shrapnel from an explosion at some point. His legs were seriously damaged by the illness and the injury. When he was about five, he was airlifted to the United States as part of "Operation Baby Lift," an airlift campaign undertaken by the US Government to rescue as many Vietnamese children from orphanages as possible before the fall of Saigon. He was on the second C-5 out of Viet Nam and ended up in California. After a short stay there, he was airlifted to New York where he was placed in an orphanage. Shortly thereafter, he was adopted by an American couple who had also adopted other special needs children, along with some able-bodied children. James had a wonderful upbringing with encouraging parents and siblings who challenged him to be all he could be.

He excelled, particularly in the sports arena. Despite being in a wheel chair most of the time (he can walk for short distances with the aid of leg braces), he played right alongside the able-bodied kids up until high school. At that time, he branched off into wheelchair sports, eventually competing in four Paralympics (Olympic equivalent for handicapped) around the globe where he won gold and silver medals. Over the years, he has competed in wheelchair tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball and swimming, often at the international level.

After high school, James went to Wright State University in Dayton with the intention of playing on their wheelchair basketball team. Unfortunately, the team folded upon his arrival, but he decided to stay at the school which was known for its wheelchair accessibility. He began an intramural wheelchair league and pursued his studies, graduating with a BS in computer science. He also worked for the college and, one day on the job, he was introduced to a young lady in the office next to his. He asked her out a short time later and, before long, they were an "item." He married Shannon after they had both graduated from Wright State, and they soon bought a small home in Beavercreek, Ohio, a short distance from Wright-Patterson AFB where James had been hired. Since then, they have had four children; Josselyn, 6; twins, Jacob and Justin, 3 and Joshua, 1.

After the birth of Josselyn, James traveled to New York to see his brother, Joe, who had been living in a Group Home since the death of their mother. Joe was born in the Philippines and is confined to a wheelchair due to severe cerebral palsy. Though they are not biological brothers, they were raised in the same home and are very close. Anyway, Joe had a college degree and had worked as an administrative assistant to the Superintendent at West Point.

Upon the passing of his mother, however, his father could no longer take care of him and reluctantly put him in a group home. Unfortunately, most of the residents were mentally handicapped, and Joe had nobody to talk to and no computers on which to maintain his computer expertise. He languished there for a couple of years until a visit by James, who immediately recognized the horrible situation. James called Shannon and said, "Get ready. I'm bringing Joe home to live with us." The next day, the two men, both in wheelchairs, showed up at the Beavercreek home, which was not handicap accessible in any way. James had been able to improvise, but Joe's needs were much greater. Over time, they adapted one bedroom and one bathroom in their tiny ranch home as much as possible to accommodate Joe's needs. Still, there were often traffic jams in the tiny house with two wheelchairs moving about and the bathrooms were so small that neither James nor Joe could shut the door once their chairs were inside. Also, because Joe needed one of their three bedrooms, it meant that all four kids (once they were born) had to sleep in one room.

Despite the home's shortcomings, everybody was happy and making the most of each and every day. Joe worked from home as an editor for a Secret Shopping Company. He used public transportation to go out on his own to shop and go to movies. James worked at Wright-Patterson, where he supported the computer network and blackberry capabilities of the three-star aeronautical Systems Center Commander and his large staff. In addition, James coached wheelchair basketball and softball teams and often conducted wheelchair sports exhibitions for area schools and organizations. Shannon stayed busy raising the four kids and volunteering at Josselyn's school and at church.

This was basically the scenario when I (along with another co-worker at Wright-Patt) nominated them for the Extreme Home Makeover. Since they were selected and the home was built -- a beautiful and sprawling ranch home with a barn motif -- nothing much as changed! I visited them less than a month ago, and they are still the same delightful and hospitable family, only with a little more room to share and grow.

As I mentioned, the show is slated to air on Sunday night, November 8 on ABC. I was interviewed on the site several times and stayed after the home was completed for an additional interview by the show's producers. While there is no guarantee that I will be on the show, I would invite everybody to tune in just to meet this great family on the other side of the state.

jeanealities is compiled by Jean Palmer Davies, lifetime Enterprise associate. She can be reached at jeandavies@comcast.net