DeVries picked for ‘Makeover’

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It was an experience unlike anything they’d ever been through before.

That’s what the children of Dirk and Susan DeVries of rural Hayward said Tuesday afternoon about how they felt of being chosen to be a part of the ABC television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Just before 10:30 a.m., Ty Pennington and his TV crew knocked on the door of the DeVries family at 84588 200th St. in Hayward Township, three miles east of Hayward, to tell them their family would be receiving a home makeover.

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Al Larson, owner of Larson Contracting, the company building the new DeVries home, said he got the opportunity to look on as the family received the knock and was told the news.

“They were relieved and happy that they were the winners,” Larson said. “They were all smiles and kisses and all that sort of stuff.”

Answering questions for the media a few hours after the door knock, two of the three DeVries children, Hanna and Derik, explained how their family’s story got in the hands of the ABC producers.

Derik said a friend of their family was actually the one who applied.

That friend did so after the family found out about Susan’s heart condition.

The DeVries are known for giving to the community.

Dirk, 45, is a former farmer who works as a mechanic at Royal Sports in Clarks Grove. He had a farming accident when he was younger that left him without one arm.

Susan,42, is a music and reading teacher at Hollandale Christian School, who is suffering from some serious health conditions. Their children are April, 17, Derik, 15, and Hanna, 12.

Derik is an offensive guard for the Albert Lea High School football team.

The DeVries own 10 acres of land around their home.

“They’re astounded,” Derik said of his parents’ reaction to the news. “They don’t know what to say. They’re completely amazed.”

The family was playing a game when the knock on the door came.

In the hours that followed, TV shooting crews were busy filming the family and the house, as many vehicles — from little cars to big rigs — began pulling into 200th Avenue carrying supplies needed for the overhaul.

The normally quiet farm soon became a busy site.

Around 5:30 p.m., the DeVries family left their home to go to a hotel. They will be vacationing at Niagara Falls, N.Y. until they return to see their new home next Tuesday.

On Wednesday the “Extreme Makeover” crew will be removing the family’s belongings from the house, and on Thursday, Larson Contracting will demolish the house.

After that, volunteers will work around the clock to get the job done in time.

The new house will be a much welcomed gift, after living in rough conditions for so long.

Hanna described the house as “coming apart at the seams.”

Upon entering the old house there was an immediate smell of mildew.

There were leaky ceilings, rotting wood siding and missing tiles, just to name some of the conditions. To get to the three children’s rooms upstairs, a person would have to walk through what seemed like a construction site.

Hanna’s room was filled with hundreds of Beanie Babies, Derik’s room had lots of old Mountain Dew and energy drinks stacked up neatly and April’s room had dozens of old Reese’s wrappers made into a collage on the wall.

There was artwork all over the house.

“In a week when we move that bus, it’s going to be incredible,” designer Johnny Littlefield said.

He said he is always amazed when a family has to deal with the burden of being sick, and he thought it was amazing to see when family after family — including the DeVries family — still has high spirits despite their problems.

This week he is designing Hanna’s new room, which he said he is excited about. With four sisters and no brothers, he knows a thing or two about girls.

Though he would not reveal some of his specific plans for the room, he gave a hint that Hanna enjoys nature.

Look to for more coverage later throughout the week.

Also check out the family at the official site.

If you personally know the family and would like to share some of your memories with them over the years, please call (507) 379-3435 or e-mail