Adoption pushed in Kemah ‘Extreme Makeover’ show


by Bronwyn Turner / The Daily News

Posted on April 5, 2010 at 8:17 AM

KEMAH, Texas — Tears, applause and cheers accompanied the soundtrack of Sunday night’s airing of ABC’s "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

Larry and Melissa Beach, surrounded by family and friends, watched a miracle unfold when a new house was built for them.

"It’s amazing. We’re still overwhelmed," Melissa Beach, whose new home in Kemah easily held a crowd of more than 60 for the private viewing party, said.

Her son, Chris, 23, sat at the top of the stairs, looking down on the crowd of supporters and the broadcast of eight days of frantic construction.

"You have that image of what it was like," Chris, who accompanied his family to Disney World in Florida while the house was being built, said. "But to see it first hand, it blows our minds."

The gathering at the Beach home was one of many in the Kemah area as supporters and building project volunteers reunited to view the two-hour season finale.

Tamara Vogt, owner of Mario’s Flying Pizza in Seabrook and Webster, brought dozens of pizzas and a buffet’s worth of lasagna to the Beach home.

"What I’ve learned from the Beach family is that Melissa and Larry look at their children and don’t see a flaw; they look in the same direction — forward," he said.

Sunday’s show revealed not only the massive makeover volunteer project, but also the determined ministry of the Beaches. The high school sweethearts have four biological and eight adopted children, four with special needs.

The Beach home was a refuge for hard-to-adopt disabled children until Hurricane Ike arrived in 2008. Their home was flooded, and the family moved into tents, then trailers.

The town of Kemah rallied around them, holding fundraising events. More than 100 requests were received by the "Extreme Makeover" staff nominating the Beach family for a new home, producers said.

On Jan. 7, a vast volunteer army invaded the town.

Priscilla Eipper, who had barely finished repairing flood damage to her own house while her husband was serving in Afghanistan, helped with clean up.

"Everyone was going through this experience (hurricane damage), and we saw an opportunity to help someone else who really needed it," she said.

In the months since, the Beaches have been adapting to their new home, and a new tragedy. Their youngest child, Mercy, died last month from a seizure just before her second birthday.

Sunday’s two-hour special was dedicated to her.

At the Beach home, the crowd fell silent as a video slide show of Mercy was shown. At the show’s conclusion, the group applauded.

Mike Kankelfritz, a morning show co-host at Christian radio station KSBJ, stood to the side with his special needs daughter, Abby Grace.

"These people are straight from heaven," he said. "They put themselves last and others first."

Larry Beach said he hoped the main message of the show will point to the blessings of adoption.

"No matter if you’re in a travel trailer or a big house like this, we all have one calling; we’re all special to God," he said. "That’s why we search out children who otherwise wouldn’t have a home. That’s what we hope comes out of all this.

"There are a lot of children out there. Maybe they’re not perfect in the world’s eyes, but they deserve a home as much as any child."