IN THE NEWS
DISABILITIES DON'T KEEP EXTREME MAKEOVER FAMILY FROM HELPING OTHERS
May 2006 — The fact that Vicente Llanes is blind doesn’t stop him from reaching out to help others. The same is true for other members of his family, who also suffer from various disabilities.
The family has been selected by ABC’s Emmy Award-winning reality television show, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” to have a new home built for them by Pinnacle Companies, a real estate development and investment company that prides itself on offering its customers the most advanced technological innovations for the home.
On May 4, the family will receive the “door knock” from the design team, the build will commence on May 6 and finish at the “reveal” when they will come home to their new house for the first time. The two-hour episode is scheduled to be a summer special for the show, which airs on Sunday evenings at 8 p. m.
In addition to Vicente, who suffers from aniridia, a hereditary eye disease, the family includes his mother, Isabel, who is also blind; his wife Maria, who has thyroid cancer; his daughters Guenivir and Carrie, who are going blind; and his son, Zeb, who is deaf due to German measles contracted by his mother during pregnancy.
The technological innovations offered by their new home will help the family lead a better life as well as help them in their mission of serving others. Brian Stolar, Pinnacle’s president and chief executive officer, calls the high-tech house the company will build for the family the “Z Home” because it will “take technology as far as it can go.”
Vicente, who has a knack for computers, uses his skills to help the visually impaired throughout the world. He is a volunteer for Bookshare.org, a non-profit online resource that increases access to books and periodicals for the visually impaired by reproducing publications into specialized digital formats for the disabled.
In addition, he assembles computer units and troubleshoots them for a technology teaching school for the blind in the Philippines. He has also taught basic computer skills to blind and visually impaired students at Lighthouse International in Westchester, NY. Before they became widely available, he wrote his own computer programs for the blind.
His wife, Maria, who works as a physical therapist, uses her skills to help out friends and church members in need of physical therapy, despite having back trouble herself.
Their parents’ example hasn’t been lost on the children. Daughter Guenivir, 19, has volunteered at a day care center and at church, where she has assisted in Sunday school, led a children’s Bible study group, helped out at the nursery and visited seniors in a nursing home. She also takes notes for a deaf student at college.
Her ambition is to earn master’s degrees in special education and business administration and then open a business that would benefit children with special needs and disadvantages.
Similarly, Zeb, 16, who is deaf, can be counted on to help out friends and neighbors in any way he can. He mows lawns, shovels driveways, paints rooms and cleans up for friends or during construction and various projects at church.
Their new house will help the family by making it more friendly to the disabled. For instance, Vicente can only work on his Braille books for Bookshare now at night because he cannot concentrate due to the street noise during the day, but in the new house the noise will be muffled by special insulation. Because the blind substitute reliance on the sense of hearing for the loss of sight, they can be easily distracted by extraneous noise.
“We are proud to be able to help such a deserving family,” Stolar said. “By helping them, we are helping them to help others.”
Pinnacle, which includes Pinnacle Communities, Pinnacle Custom and Pinnacle Downtown, is among the most respected real estate development and investment companies in the industry. The award-winning company has built an enviable reputation in the sale and rental of luxury, active adult and custom housing, as well as the office, retail and mixed-use markets. Since the company’s founding in 1984, Pinnacle has built in excess of 3,000 luxury attached and detached homes as well as several million square feet of commercial space. Pinnacle’s innovative approach to development and creative problem-solving abilities are qualities that continually position Pinnacle as “what’s next” in the real estate market.
About Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
This year ABCs Extreme Makeover: Home Edition earned an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program. It is one of the most watched programs in the nation and is produced by Endemol USA, a division of Endemol Holding. David Goldberg is the president of Endemol USA. The series is executive-produced by Tom Forman. The show airs on Sundays (8:00-9:00 p. m. ET), on the ABC Television Network.
Media are welcome on site for the duration of the build; press ID is required and advance notice is recommended. Press releases about the builders will be distributed on site, via e-mail and through the above media contact. Interviews with the builders can also be arranged through the above media contact. For more information, visit the builders’ Web site at www.extremepinnacle.com.
For more information on the show, contact Mozell Miley, ABC publicist, at 212-456-6444 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.