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Family's miracle unfolds

POPULAR COMMUNITY - Renee Wilson, surrounded by her four grandchildren and other relatives and friends, wept, giggled and praised God on Sunday night from the sofa of her new home while watching "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

The ABC show, starring host Ty Pennington, spent a week in the Myrtle Beach area last month filming the construction of Wilson's five-bedroom home in the Popular community. Volunteer painters, carpenters and other laborers used donated materials, led by a team of local builders, to construct for Wilson and her grandchildren the 3,400-square-foot house.

The family was able to see for the first time the demolition of their cramped, mobile home, the rise of their new house in less than four days and the hundreds of volunteers who helped make what once was a dream of Wilson's come true. Wilson said she prayed for a new house while watching an episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" last year.

"I put my hands on the screen, and I claimed this house in Jesus' name," Wilson said, holding a white crumpled, tear-stained tissue in one hand. "It's different than watching it on TV. When you're in the midst of it, it's touching. It's spiritual. It's overwhelming."

Wilson, who took in her grandchildren after their mother was no longer able to care for them, cried during most of the show, but especially when Pennington talked about the family's cramped, two-bedroom mobile home and how the school cafeteria worker, without hesitation, took in her grandchildren to keep them out of foster care.

Although there were melancholy tears, there also were tears of joy at seeing herself react during the "Move that bus!" moment and seeing her red-and-white master suite with the large jacuzzi tub for the first time.

"I have definitely lost myself in luxury in my bathroom," she said.

There also was spurts of laughter and giggles among Wilson and the children, especially when Pennington and the rest of his design team drove golf balls into the side of their dilapidated mobile home and at the sight of themselves reacting to their extraordinary bedrooms.

Hakeem, 10, a book lover, once shared a bedroom with his younger brother Timothy. Now, his room features a loft bed, a light-up desk, a wall of book shelves, a rope chaise lounge and a revolving bookcase.

His favorite thing in his room? "My books," he exclaimed.

Eight-year-old Timothy's reaction to his Spiderman-themed bedroom: "Awesome," he shouted.

Timothy's room is show designer Paul DiMeo's version of a rooftop city. The walls feature the city skyline and Spiderman sailing from a rooftop in one corner, shooting a web of rope extending from the wall to the ceiling. Another roped web leads up to Timothy's loft bed.

Seven-year-old R.J.'s tree house-themed room also includes a loft bed and a wall of chalkboard and pegboard for doodling and displaying art.

Just before the episode aired, plastic balls were flying through the air in 5-year-old Erica's basketball themed bedroom as her brothers joined her to shoot baskets on a giant hoop extending above the window in her room. The soft blue walls in Erica's bedroom are accented with painted oversized basketballs, including balls across the ceiling. Her bed resembles bleachers, where stuffed toys and cheerleading dolls are aligned across the top rows.

Wilson's bedroom features white furniture, red and white floral wallpaper, and a red chandelier. Among her favorite accessories are the four sketches of her grandchildren that hang on her bedroom walls.

"Ty did my room," she said. "Red is my best color."

It's been nearly two months since the Wilson family moved in. Wilson said she had to keep the interior a secret until after the show aired, but that didn't keep bystanders from trying to steal a glimpse.

"I was under a lot of pressure," she said. "I had to put up a fence because I had strangers coming up. Maybe now since the show aired, it will quiet down. I'm not trying to be rude. I'm just trying to take care of my grandchildren and keep our routine the same."

The family is trying to get used to living in a new home that's nearly 10 times the size it was used to.

"It's a much bigger place," Wilson said. "We're still adjusting, but it's getting easier and easier everyday. I still feel like it's a dream. It's a blessing from God."

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