TAYLORSVILLE — Jessica Gomez was enjoying a Thursday morning home with her family when she heard someone yell, "Good morning!" from the front lawn.
The voice was that of Ty Pennington, host of the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," announcing that Gomez and her children were about to be given a brand new home.
"It was like a dream," Gomez said. "We watch the show religiously every Sunday."
Gomez is the mother of 7-year-old Jonah and 5-year-old Ellie. The three live with Gomez's parents in the Taylorsville home where she grew up. Construction crews were scheduled to begin work on a new home in the Daybreak community Thursday night, and the project is expected to be completed in a week, Daybreak spokesman Cameron Jackson said.
The land for the home, near Oquirrh Lake in South Jordan, was donated by Kennecott Utah Copper. Jackson said the show's producers contacted Kennecott looking for a lot that would be close to parks and schools for the children.
"It was important for them to find a spot that really works," Jackson said.
Plans for the home have not been released, but Gomez expects that it will somehow incorporate a soccer theme for her son. Jonah, a fan of Real Salt Lake, suffers from two rare blood disorders that require blood transfusions every six to eight weeks.
Last year, as part of the Make-A-Wish foundation, Jonah was able to meet the Real team — including favorite player Kyle Beckerman — and join musician David Archuleta in singing to the crowd.
In addition to the home being built for the family, organizers will hold a bone marrow drive Saturday at Rio Tinto in conjunction with six similar drives at Major League Soccer stadiums around the country.
Jonah has needed a bone marrow transplant for much of his life, his aunt Audra Kasparian said, but his Latin descent makes it hard to find a match. The bone marrow drives will look to register thousands of donors for testing to help people like Jonah.
"You never know, they could hold the key," Kasparian said.
Kasparian described Gomez, her sister, as someone who loves to make people laugh and lives to take care of her children. While the family spoke to members of the press, Allie hid behind her mother's legs, while Jonah stood nearby answering reporters with a big smile.
Gomez said it's difficult managing Jonah's illnesses. Because of his condition, a slight fever means a rush to the hospital.
"You always have to be on guard," Gomez said.
She described the entire event of winning a home as surreal, but said she was excited about what it would do for the lives of her family.
"It will definitely be easier to maintain Jonah's health and give Ellie her own space," she said.
"Extreme Makeover" relies heavily on the volunteer efforts of community members and Gomez said she is grateful to live in such a giving community.11 comments on this story
"When there is a need, Utah steps up above and beyond," she said.
Organizers are still looking for donations and volunteers for the project, Jackson said. A fundraising concert will also be held Tuesday at Herriman High School featuring David Osmond, Alex Boye, Thurl Bailey and comedian Jason Hewlett.
A spokesperson for the TV show said the episode will likely air in late September or early October.