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Grommesh family joins others to watch their 'Extreme Makeover'

Garrett Grommesh holds hands with his mother, Adair, just before the start of the ABC television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" as they gather at the Fargo Theatre Sunday night. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Garrett Grommesh says he'd like to be the first astronaut to "wheel" on the moon.

But he might also consider a career in showbiz.

The personable 10-year-old with the quick wit and easy smile was the runaway star Sunday evening, when about 700 people showed up at the Fargo Theatre to watch the Moorhead boy and his family receive a new home on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

The crowd laughed and clapped during the reveal of his family's 5,200-square-foot, Craftsman-inspired home, especially when the cameras showed Garrett uttering awed "ohmigoshes" at the home's many amenities. He also showed a wisdom and confidence far beyond his 10 years, telling cameras that it didn't matter if kids were in wheelchairs, but "if they're nice or not."

Garrett's mom, Adair, said after the show that she'd been nervous about how the family would be portrayed, as the show's producers shot 500 hours of tape for a 44-minute show. They'd also made family members do multiple takes, encouraging everyone to amp up their enthusiasm of "spontaneous" reactions each time.

But in the end, the Grommeshes was pleased with the results. "That turned out much better than I could have hoped for," Adair said. "And Garrett - boy, did his personality shine through. He came across really well."

The Grommeshes learned they'd been selected for the show in October because Garrett, who has spina bifida, had trouble navigating around their old home in his wheelchair. Their daughter, Peighton, also has physical challenges, including asthma and a pancreatic enzyme insufficiency.

Based on Garrett's difficulties in participating in extracurricular activities, the couple decided to manage Hope Inc., a nonprofit program that makes sports and other activities accessible to kids with disabilities.

And so many Hope Inc., parents and children were represented in the theater audience as well.

Lindsey Scholar and her daughter Taylor, 10, were there to show their support. Through Hope Inc., Taylor has been able to participate in activities like bowling, downhill skiing and wheelchair soccer.

"They've been so modest through this whole thing, yet they are 100 percent deserving," Scholar said of the Grommeshes. "Without their energy and dedication, there's no way our kids would be as active in the community as this."

Also present at the showing were the Izja and Valdete Hajdari family, who - at Garrett's request - received the Grommeshes' original home. After the episode aired, they approached the Grommeshes to again hug and thank them.

Daryl Braham and Tyrone Leslie, chief builders on the project and co-owners of Heritage Homes in Fargo, talked about the rewards of working on this project, which involved 5,500 volunteers and 300 plumbers, roofers, electricians and carpenters.

Braham talked about the differences between this "Extreme" build and an earlier one in New Orleans. When they put out a 4 a.m. call for volunteers at the Moorhead site, 100 people quickly showed up. When they did the same thing in New Orleans, not even the builders showed up.

"It was the most humbling experience," Leslie said. "What do you even say when something like this comes together?"

Adair and Bill also thanked the builders at Heritage. "They were just awesome," she says. "They acted as if we were doing something for them."

"We're very happy with the show," Bill Grommesh joked to the crowd afterward. "We can actually continue to live in this area."