Published: February 11th 2008February 10th 2008
The Daniel Gilyeat house
This is me in front of the house on my work day, Thursday.
I learned through the American Legion Riders group about the project of Extreme Makeover Home Edition they were going to be building a house for a wounded Marine in my area. Daniel Gilyeat a single parent with 4 children had lost a leg in Iraq and was in need of a better house.
8 NOV 2007
A DAY OF WORK
Volunteers signed up actually a few blocks away and shuttle buses took you to within a block of the work site. When I showed up I was told that they were not accepting anymore volunteers except for Marines. They would not turn away any Marines, but they had a lot of volunteers at the site. I had worn a USMC t-shirt and was not turned away. I did serve in the Marines for 3 years. I was given the choice of wearing that t-shirt or getting a blue volunteer shirt. I chose to keep my USMC shirt on the volunteer at that center told me I would have a better chance of getting a job there if I wore my USMC shirt.
Volunteers did not report in to anyone at the job site. When I got there on Thursday
The front yard on Thursday
This is 48 hours before the unveil.
the inside had been sheet rocked and the task at hand was mudding the joints and finishing work on the windows and doors. The yard was just dirt. They were using the bulldozer to level parts of it. They were planting trees in the front and back yard. I asked around and was pointed to the staff chow trailer to find someone to give me a task. When I asked they suggested that I pick up debris from the yard and the neighbors yard. The production company really takes over the whole neighborhood. I don’t think the 5 houses in the immediate area of the house could get cars into their drive because their drives held trailers or tents for the makeover. I filled 2 bags of trash beside all the hunks of bricks and limbs that I carried to the dumpter. Then I mossyed into the house to look around and help in there if I could. There was lots to do, but it was really up to people to find something to do. I could see why they didn’t want anymore people that day, there was at least 30 people just standing around in clusters.
ALR Post 370 Escort
This is the group that provided the escort for the limo to the unveil.
the inside looked like the construction site it was. If you have been in a house under construction you know that scrap ends of materials, sawdust, bent nails, coffee cups and assorted items litter the floor. So I grabbed another bag and began filling it. After I had the big chunks either tossed away or if they were big enough to possibly use again, I stacked them out of the way, then I swept the floors. I spent most of my time in want ended up being his office and the living/dining/kitchen area. The carpenters had been using the office area as a place to cut the trim for the rest of the house. So when they moved their saws out, I went in and cleaned up the floor, wiped down the walls, window frames and French doors to get all the dust off. The room had not been painted yet. Most of the time that I was cleaning up, there were 3 or 4 guys trying to get the front doors to fit right. It didn’t want to close correctly and the threshold did not lay correctly either. The guys were really having a time of it. While I
Hurry Up and Wait
Alot of the day was spent waiting. Here a bunch of us found a fence to lean on. I even laid down and took a nap.
was sweeping the camera crew came through. Advance notice is given as this guy comes through the house with hands full of blue t-shirts so if you are not wearing one, then you are handed one and they request you put it on over your other shirt. I got a shirt, put it on and headed into the back bedrooms until they were gone. It didn’t take long before I was hot. So I found a closet, took my USMC shirt off. The problem was there wasn’t anyplace to sit anything down and leave it as everything was being, mudded, painted, cleaned or cut up. After about an hour of trying to keep track of it, I decided to just take it back to the jeep. I headed back to the shuttle bus to make a quick trip to the jeep to dump the shirt. I returned and decided that now was as good time as any to get something to eat, so I had some of the great BBQ that was there. After eating it was back to the house. I asked around and was handed some wood putty. I worked for the next few hours on filling the
nail holes in the door and window trim work. I worked in all three hallways, the rain forest bedroom, the kitchen, dining room, living room, office, and all three rooms in Daniels bedroom. I was working just ahead of the painter for part of it. My friends would be proud of me as I was on ladders for quite a bit of this. All the ceilings in the house are 9 feet or taller, I didn’t see any 8 foot ceilings. The windows were all tall ones. When I finished that, most of the rest of the interior was work for the professionals. It was time for painting and laying floors…. I had started around 10AM and it was 4:30PM when I decided to go home. They were just starting to lay the sod in the front yard when I left. I was filthy from all the dust I had been sweeping up I needed a shower and a nap.
Here are just some random thoughts I have about the experience.
There was always people coming around to see if you needed a bottle of water or at time they brought in meals.
I noticed that a
This is right before we take off for the actual escort, not a practice run. The tent is the security tent, EMHE brings their own security team to the sites. The guy that maned this tent was from NC. There are 2 teams one for the east coast one for the west.
lot of the installation work was done by the companies providing the parts. Like the fireplace insert was put together and installed by the company providing it.
They had security checkpoints at each end of the block that stopped all cars, there were no drive-by gawkers as only the production company and neighbors had access to the street.
They had the area across the road fenced off so people could come and observe. The day of the unveiling shuttle buses were running from the community college many blocks away to the about 2 blocks away. There was a big down hill from the shuttle to the site, but it was a bigger uphill back to the shuttle bus. There was nowhere for the observers to sit, they all had to stand and they were there for hours. I would not have stuck it out if I had to stand there that long.
Inside the house, there were cameras mounted up on the walls looking down.
10 NOV 07 - The Marine Corp Birthday
One of the riders from the Post 370 American Legion Riders I belong to had gotten approval from the shows
To the unveiling
Heading down to join the rest of the excitement
producers to do a motorcycle escort for the limo during the unveil. The approval was not given until the evening before the unveil. We had to stage at 7 or 8AM on Saturday morning and it was over I think around 4:30 PM. Most of the day was the old military ‘hurry up and wait’. They did feed us lunch. We practiced the run through a few times. We rode from about a block away but it took 6 or 7 blocks to get back into position.
It was an awesome experience. To be in the escort you had to have either a big US flag or a big USMC flag flying from your bike. I had a Marine one I had flown before from the bike. One of our club officers ran out and bought a bunch of Marine Corp flags for those needing a flag. At the end of our run, there is the bus that will be used to block the families view when they exit the limo. The street is a narrow residential street, this bus is taking a very big chunk of it and the cameraman and the TV camera on a tripod is
creating an even more narrow path around this bus. We had to keep the speed up and could not bottleneck at the bus. We come down the hill in pairs side by side and then we have to go around the bus in single file. So I had worked it out with the guy I was riding beside that he would go first by the bus and I would be right on his ass, so don’t slow down. This was the scariest thing for me, as I had concerns that bikes were going to bump into each other here, go down and we were all going to be in the pile by the time the wheels stopped turning. Then just to add the cherry to it, right after the bus is a big speed bump type thing that is protecting all these cables that were running across the road. I have a 3” ground clearance on my bike, so I scrap everytime. The house is located at the bottom of a hill, we are staged just on the other side of the crest of the hill, which is about ¾ of a block away. We are staged down the hill
Some of the Marines
These guys were lining the road for Daniel when he came in.
enough so we will be at speed when we crest the hill and are in view of the camera and crowd. So its time for the final run, we are told right before we mount up that they want us to come back around after we do the escort and watch the rest of the unveiling. We were lined up but then a car came and we had to split up and get out of the way for that car to get through. We fired up the engines, then had to wait……. Harleys are air cooled so sitting for a long time running is bad news. Some of us turned our engines off then the front just took off. Gary stalled as he took off, he was in front of me but off to the side. I remember thinking that if I went on and he just joined in at the end, then I would not be paired up with the same guy. So I am yelling at the top of my lungs GO, GO, GO, GO so he knows I am waiting for him. I am hoping he hears me over all the motorcycles. He had a hell of
a time getting it started and going. We have until we reach the top of the hill to get squared up in the line and we all managed it.
As we came down the hill toward the house, the street was lined with Marines in dress blues. Do you know what it is like to have the street lined with these heroes as you drive through? Add a screaming crowd of people waving American flags and the honor of escorting this true American hero. I make it by the bus and over the bump with eyes filled with tears. We ride like crazy around the route to get back to the staging area and get down the hill, on foot this time, to watch the unveiling. It was awesome, I would not trade that experience for anything.
10 FEB 2008
THE SHOW AIRS
Having seen the house during the build and seeing the show, I can tell you that they do not show near all the neat stuff the house has. The house had 2 garages, one for his shop and one for his new truck. The dining room had a wall that was a mural of
a forest. The flag pole, was awesome. The show displayed the signage that was at the base of it, but they did not show the Marine Corp emblem that was embedded in the concrete. I watched the Marines, from a window, as they toiled and worried about getting that emblem in there just right. BTW, it was mentioned in a special that was aired just in KC that the old flag pole was erected in a neighbors yard, at Daniels request, the neighbors when interviewed said it meant alot to them and they cherished it. There were 3 bathrooms, one was between 2 of the kids bedrooms, one in Daniels bedroom and one in the hall. The whole house is made for a wheelchair. Including the front doors, the threshold was minimal height. The back deck did just have stairs if IIRC. But there were no stairs getting out the house and on to the deck.
I would have liked to see one of the time warps of the interior build. I noticed that this episode was different than other episodes I have seen. They usually do this time warp of the build. They just had the one short
There is Daniel and Tye. This is the only time I saw
one they played showing the outside roof going on. But I didn’t see it this time, even though the episode was 2 hours long. The majority of the show was about Daniel and his kids and his life. I think that was great as he is a special guy.
The unveiling took a long time. At one point the little girl is yanking her daddys arm trying to pull him into the house. He is bouncing around on his good leg trying to not be pulled over.
The one disappointment I had about the show was I didn't see any of his “uh-rah”s that he did with the crowd. He only did about 30 of them. In the middle of hearing about something, he would just turn to the crowd and yell ‘uh-rah’ and everyone screamed it back. It was awesome.
I couldn’t pick myself out in the escort. The views were just too fast. But I spotted me in the background when they were at the flag pole. We signed contracts to not publish pictures of the house or disclose details until after it aired so I had to wait til today to do write this.
Semper Fi Daniel, it good to see good things happen to someone who really deserves it.
There are more photos below