By Jeaneane Payne
The Tennessee Theatre will host a pep rally on Wednesday, January 4, to introduce ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" senior producer Milan Vasic for the episode that will be taped in Knoxville next month.
All volunteers and others interested in the production of the show are invited to the pep rally. There will also be an update for those involved.
"With the build start being just around the corner, the pep rally is a chance for everyone involved to learn more about what will happen," said Christi Branscom, the president of Grace Construction, the lead builder on the project. "We have had more than 2,500 volunteers sign up to help, and this is an opportunity for us to come together as a group."
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett will be on hand. To create enthusiasm at the rally will be University of Tennessee cheerleaders and dance squad, as well as by area mascots including Smokey, from the University of Tennessee, Wivick the Frog from WIVK radio, and the mascot from the Knoxville NightHawks arena football team.
Knoxville's well-known teen singing sensation Logan Murrell will perform.
Doors to the Tennessee Theatre will open at 5:15 p.m. and the program will begin at 6.
Admission to the event is free. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. Refreshments will be available for purchase, as will long and short-sleeved souvenir T-shirts offered for donations to the Knoxville Build Fund, which will benefit the family to be featured on the TV show. Donations to the fund also will be accepted.
Additionally, donations will be accepted for the YWCA, a cause dear to the hearts of the organizers of the event. "The YWCA helps women in need, just as our undertaking for 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' will help a family in need," said Branscom, who also serves on the board of the YWCA. In addition to cash donations, the YWCA is asking donors to bring any gift cards they may have gotten for Christmas that they don't plan to use or that have some amount of value left on them.
The Knoxville build will begin on January 10 when personnel from the Emmy-winning TV show will knock on the door of the selected family and give them the good news that they have been selected. At that point, the family will be whisked away for a weeklong vacation. While they are gone, volunteers will work around the clock to rebuild their home, accomplishing in a week what normally takes nearly a year to achieve.
The episode featuring Knoxville will air in late 2012 as a special two-hour episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on WATE Channel 6 here in Knoxville.