Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen


Citizen Staff Writer



Lizzie Bell, 14, clasped her hands to her face and hugged her parents as the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” bus moved from her front yard Tuesday to reveal the family’s new home.

About 3,000 people spent most of the afternoon in one of Tucson’s first warm days of the year, waiting for the family.

The Bells arrived at 4:30 p.m., after the Sam Levitz’s trucks with $50,000 in donated furniture were gone, the front yard raked and numerous takes for the show were finished. It will air March 22 on ABC.

Even the family had to do a retake to enter the home at 4630 N. Paseo Aquimuri, near Craycroft and River roads, which had been rebuilt in just more than 100 hours, 24-7, over the past few days.

Designer Rib Hillis said families this season are being chosen based on their contributions to the community and cited Lizzie’s endeavors to get people to donate blood. Her called her a “hero who never once says ‘poor me.’ ”

Lizzie, diagnosed in infancy with Diamond Blackfan anemia, a congenital disorder that affects only 600 to 700 people worldwide, also speaks at local schools about what it’s like to receive a blood transfusion.

Her family created the John P. Bell Family Foundation to raise awareness about the ongoing need for blood donation and also sponsors regular blood drives. Lizzie also sold lemonade outside her old home to raise money for the cause.

The new home replaces their old one which had mold, a termite infestation and cracks in the concrete, and is a great story for the family.

But another story is the businesses and community volunteers who, during the severe economic downturn, provided free materials and labor.

Nine students from Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center moved furniture, dug trenches, planted plants – anything they needed, said student Miguel Guerrero, 20.

Classmate Jorge Corrales, 23, said it was all worth it. “If the family starts crying when they move the bus, it might make me cry, too – if the cameras aren’t on me.”

Brian McHolm said a crew from the company he owns with brothers Jason and Matt McHolm worked four days installing a water harvesting system. “Every guy here gave up work days to come here. And there’s not a guy out here who got paid,” he said.

The talents of Scott Truelove of Truelove Window Cleaning weren’t needed until the last day, but he was there for five hours cleaning windows and solar panels, he said. “Everybody was so generous, which means more in these economic times.”

Like hundreds of volunteers, Paula Ganson isn’t in construction. Neither is Larry Kaja. But both could be found in the special projects tents, Ganson working on a tile mosaic for the master bedroom and Kaja making baseball bats for another bedroom.

“All the volunteers and staff were so friendly and thankful, Ganson said. “Everybody took care of everybody.”

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

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