A story of heart and home Alumni assist ABC's Extreme Makeover

The phrase “blood, sweat and tears” conveys hard work, passion and grit.

The same is true for MUD, sweat and tears. Just ask two OC alumni who trudged through extremely muddy conditions in early February on the ABC Extreme Makeover Home Edition “set” in Lexington, Oklahoma.

Steve Shoemaker, the marketing director for Ideal Homes, was “the go-to guy” on the project that transformed an ice- and rain-soaked cattle pasture into a sodden, landscaped yard and beautiful new home for a family that viewers fell in love with when the episode aired in March.

Mike Osburn, who owns PoliGRAM, a political consulting, government relations and association management firm, worked with Shoemaker and Ideal Homes as the volunteer coordinator for the massive project.

If you are a fan of the TV show, you likely know that more goes into the production than what host Ty Pennington and his crew can accomplish. For this episode, Ideal Homes led the charge to build a new home for Brian and Audra Skaggs and their children Merit and Jhett, who live in a rural community 30 miles south of Oklahoma City. The family was selected for the show after falling on hard financial times when baby Jhett required a heart transplant.

“The family put their lives on hold for their son. As a parent, that touches your heart, and you see a little boy who needs to live in a safe environment. Part of it is being part of a TV reality show, and part is a community coming together,” said Shoemaker, who graduated from OC in 2000 with a degree in public relations/advertising.

Osburn said it took less than three days to recruit more than 1,000 volunteers who helped from the initial “Braveheart Walk” to the final “Move That Bus!” moment. And that wasn’t all.

“Local restaurants donated so much good food that workers and volunteers may have actually gained weight in spite of their manual labor. Sub-contractors and skilled trades donated every bit of the time and material that went into that house. Dry wall installers and roofers and electricians slept in their trucks along the road to the house waiting on their turns to do what they do on a project where they would not get paid,” said Osburn, who graduated from OC in 1990 with a degree in history/pre-law.

Osburn, who worked for former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating during the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, is familiar with that giving spirit that has been dubbed “The Oklahoma Standard.”

“The people of Oklahoma are good and caring and will collectively drop what they’re doing – even if it means trudging through knee-deep mud and sub-freezing temperatures – to help people in need,” Osburn said. “The Oklahoma Standard isn’t tangible. You can just feel it. I felt it while I was on Gov. Keating’s staff in 1995 and I felt it on the set of Extreme Makeover Home Edition in 2010.”

The same could be said about the “OC standard.” From the student-led Wishing Well project to provide water in Africa, to legions of alumni who serve around the world on the mission field, in their communities and congregations, and in a million everyday acts of kindness, this standard is part of who we are.

“As a believer in Christ, you jump at every opportunity there is to touch someone’s life. And it’s going to send you away wanting to do more,” Shoemaker said.

By Dawn Shelton (90)