The hard work and craftsmanship that brought thousands of area volunteers together in a project for a Beaufort Marine and his family was unveiled Sunday night during the airing of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
After more than three months of waiting, hundreds of area residents gathered in Beaufort's Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to see the Dickinson family's new 4,000-square-foot, two-story, "Lowcountry plantation-style" house on an outdoor movie screen.
With six bedrooms and four bathrooms, the house at 45 Mystic Circle has a bedroom for each of India and Bill Dickinson's five children: Grant, 16; Brianna, 14; Bailey, 10; Isabella, 8; and Sophia, 16 months. The family was selected from hundreds of candidates.
The renovation replaced a mold-infested home that was razed to make way for the new house.
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Marine Staff Sgt. Bill Dickinson, a 17-year veteran of the armed services who is deployed in Afghanistan, watched from abroad as the home was revealed in January and his reaction was taped for the reality show.
"How can I go off to war when I can't even provide for my own?" he said of his home's problems during a show interview. "I am blessed that my family is going to have a healthy home now."
Prior to the airing of the 8 p.m. episode on ABC, Brianna Dickinson thanked the crowd and local volunteers for their efforts.
"We've never been this blessed before," she told the crowd.
The Dickinson children, who attended the viewing party, said they were excited that friends and family would finally be able to see the inside of their new home. India Dickinson, who could not make the airing because of health problems, was looking forward to her husband's homecoming, which was scheduled for May or June, Grant Dickinson said.
"It's been really hard on her since he's been gone," he said.
Before the "Extreme Makeover" shoot, the Dickinson's home had a myriad of problems. Chief among them was mold, which created respiratory problems for the children, including the youngest, Sophia, and Grant.
The Beaufort High School sophomore, who once slept on the living room couch to stay away from the mold in and around his old bedroom, said he now rarely leaves his room. Sophia's respiratory problems also have improved, he said.
"We've noticed a huge difference in our health," he said. "I had an inhaler and now, I don't even need it. I feel completely fine."
At the viewing, Joe Sobowicz, 63, who helped build cabinets for the home at Grayco Building Center in Bluffton, watched as his and other volunteers' work was revealed to millions of TV viewers. The crowd cheered as each room was unveiled.
"Seeing the family and hearing their story is great." he said. "It's just good to be able to give something back to people who deserve it."