There’s been a lot of excitement around Fresno this week as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition hit town.  Our staff was on site the day the team knocked on the door of Maryann Riojas to let her know she was getting an extreme makeover.  The anticipation to the “family reveal” was more than just wondering who was going to get a new home.  Until you know who’s getting the makeover you’re left wondering…why do they need this?  What is their story?  If you’ve watched a single episode of this ABC show you know it’s always touching and often leaves you with the awareness that no matter how much you think you lack…you are truly blessed!

The Fresno family getting this makeover is inspirational. Born without legs and only one fully developed arm, Mary Ann Riojas was placed in foster care at an early age and grew up in poverty and an unstable household.   After marrying and having four children, she struggled financially and found herself on welfare.

Maryann has worked hard to achieve things she’s been told she never could.  She got her drivers license, became the 1st in her family to get a college degree and is an active ambassador for the Easter Seals program.  She’s inspired thousands of people to overcome adversity.   My friend Cari put it best.  When you look at Maryann you don’t see a disability.  You see an incredibly strong woman who has refused to give up on life.  She lives life and inspires us all to do the same.

I once heard Simon Cowell say that he loved being around Americans because we have a tendency to be happy for other people when good things happen to them.   I felt that Thursday morning when the Riojas family learned they had been chosen for extreme makeover.  And there’s a really great feeling in the air around this city.  Hundreds of people giving of their time and talents to give back to a family that has given so much.  It’s nice to be reminded that there’s good people out there willing to do good for others and expect nothing in return.

Ty Pennington and Maryann Riojas heading into her home to meet with her family and the builders

Ty Pennington and Maryann Riojas heading into her home to meet with her family and the builders

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