'Extreme Makeover' episode evokes cheers, tears
CHAMPAIGN – Nathan and Jenny Montgomery laughed and cried, smiled and cheered with several hundred of their new best friends Sunday evening for the airing of their story on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
"It's more than we could have imagined," Nathan Montgomery said. "I could not be more happy with how ABC did it."
The couple held hands as they watched as their children were introduced to their new robot-, army- and candy-themed bedrooms on three giant screens at a viewing party at the I Hotel and Convention Center in Champaign.
The audience was largely a mixture of some of the hundreds of volunteers who helped make the Montgomerys' new Philo home become a reality and volunteers who provide food, clothing and other essentials for Salt & Light, the ministry Nathan Montgomery directs that serves people at or below the poverty line.
In fact, the biggest cheers of the evening followed the announcement on television that $50,000 had been raised for the ministry.
"The opportunity to create awareness for Salt & Light has been awesome," Nathan Montgomery said.
Jenny Montgomery said she will never forget how the community came together with the help of Ty Pennington and his jolly "Home Makeover" crew to build her family a new home in Philo and improve the Salt & Light facilities in one week.
"The community support has been very overwhelming," she said. "It is awesome that so many more people know about Salt & Light."
Herb and Linda Moon of Villa Grove came to Champaign to watch Sunday's show on the big screen.
"Nathan and Jenny are a wonderful couple, and they really deserve everything they've got," said Linda Moon, who had made cookies for some of the "Home Edition" volunteers during the home building process.
UI student Anna Wetherholt of Urbana, a volunteer at Salt & Light, said she was excited to see the show.
"The last few months have brought a lot of community attention to Salt & Light," Wetherholt said. "It fulfills a great need."
Sue Massell of Urbana came because she was anxious to see what the inside of the new home looked like.
"The Montgomerys are hard working, and they are raising a great family," she said. "This couldn't happen to a better family."
"I wanted to be here to see Nathan and Jenny's reaction when they saw the house get built," said Cindy Hall of Urbana, one of the "Extreme Makeover" volunteers.
Salt & Light board member John Prince said the television show has increased public awareness of the organization's ministry.
As the show concluded, Nathan Montgomery thanked everybody involved with the project.
"For us, the greatest blessing of everything that took place was not the new home or the work at Salt & Light," he said. "It was seeing how people care about us and our work."