Editor's Note: The Burbank family episode of "George to the Rescue" will run on Saturday, March 30 at 10 a.m. on NCB. Don't forget to tune in or set your DVR!
"Is this our house?" asked a stunned Carolyn Burbank when she saw her newly renovated home for the first time.
Burbank and her family were the recipients of a home renovation courtesy of NBC's home improvement show "George to the Rescue," which renovates homes to change people's lives. On Monday, the day of the big "reveal," the family returned to their home after three weeks away.
Since son Ryan, 18, was paralyzed in an accident last summer, the family has had to learn to adjust to their new circumstances. Ryan has been confined to the first floor, and the house's layout -- sunken living room, cramped kitchen and powder room too small for a wheelchair -- has made daily living a challenge.
Family friend and contractor Steve Ramos mentioned the family's situation to Maplewood resident Joe Saporito, a client who works for NBC. Saporito contacted George Oliphant, the host of "George to the Rescue," and the show chose the family for its next project.
The living room is now a gorgeous, open space that seamlessly connects to the dining area and the fully renovated kitchen. Off the kitchen is a new, handicapped accessible full bathroom for Ryan.
Ryan's favorite part of the renovation? "My room," he said. "It's amazing." His bedroom, which sits just off the new living room, is a full-throttle homage to his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys.
"We took (that) theme and ran with it," said Oliphant.
Also on hand were the dozens of friends and helpers who had worked on the project. As they filed down the stairs, Eric and Carolyn gave each one a handshake or a hug, and a whispered, "Thank you."
Later, speaking the the group, Eric teared up as he thanked them for what they had done.
"Maplewood is amazing," said Oliphant. "You have unbelievable people here...who worked day, night and weekends to do this for you and Ryan."
Carolyn said she didn't think it was possible to make the space work so well. "They opened everything up so we have access to it," she said. "Ryan will be able to be with us watching TV, eating dinner...It will be so much easier for him; he'll be independent."
"There are no barriers in this house," said Oliphant. "Most importantly, we wanted Ryan to have privacy."
Oliphant said the house was "a fun one to work on." He continued, "This is our 35th 'rescue' and it always brings a tear to my eye and my heart skips a beat."
As the family thanked Oliphant and the crew, the host -- who is also the father of three boys -- said he wished he could have done more.
"What more is there left to do?" asked Eric. "We got a whole new home."
Volunteers who worked on the Burbank home include:
Brinton Brosius Construction, designer Ashlee Anthony, electrician John Nittolo, plumber Todd Williams of Woolley Plumbing, and Home Depot. Angelo and Mary Vayas of Village Trattoria donated all the food for the crew.
Billy Harrington of Harrington Services provided major demolition.
Ryan's former lacrosse teammates: Johnny Daugherty, Chris Young, Brett Mangan, Dylan Heningburg, Henry Whalen, Cole Dilley, Alec Ramos, Dustin Ramos.
Friends and people who donated materials and labor: Tim Gray Sr., Jon Shlafer,
Painters Joseph Salvdor, Jesup Salvador, Micky Paredes, (SSR Design)
Anthony Masi (Woolley Plumbing), Jim Buggy (New Jersey Plumbing Supply).
Paint provided by Benjamin Moore Aura, Tom Young (Benjamin Moore), Jeff LaFrance (Ricciardi Brothers, Maplewood). Bob Mittermaier and crew for timely inspections.
Susan Ramos, Margaret Gray, Jo-Anne Callahan, Robyn Whalen set up the kitchen and donated pots, coffeemaker, toasters and utensils. Steve and Julie Reich donated Ryan's linen closet.
The HK Project and the South Orange Elks will soon present the family with a new handicapped accessible van, made possible by donations.
The episode will air on March 30 at 10 a.m.; check out Patch's exclusive sneak peek photos.