Extreme Makeover: Home Edition chronicles Rochester woman, wounded soldier's life together
When " Extreme Makeover: Home Edition " airs Sunday, a nationwide audience will see something more than an unsuspecting couple presented with a new home. The show featuring Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler and Rochester native Jessica Hansen will also tell the story of a recovery and a wedding.
Zeigler was critically wounded Nov. 5, 2009, during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood that resulted in the deaths of 13 people. His then-girlfriend and now-wife, Jessica Hansen, has since cared for and watched Zeigler defeat every pessimistic prognosis of his condition since the shooting. He also received some of his care at Mayo Clinic in June.
During the filming of their wedding, Zeigler, who was shot four times and whose prognosis was considered grim, walked down the aisle without the assistance of a cane.
"That was one of the big things that he always said he would do, and he did it," Hansen, a Mayo High School graduate, said.
Their new house, a 2,800-foot structure located in Salado, Texas, 30 minutes from Fort Hood, was reportedly built in a record, three-day period in early December with the help of scores of volunteers, many of them soldiers from the post. When the couple pulled up in a white Rolls Royce with a "Just Married" sign on the license plate, Zeigler was dressed in his Army dress blue uniform and Hansen wore her wedding dress.
Most families featured on the show spend time at a theme park while "Home Makeover" host Ty Pennington, designers and construction crews work to build the new home. In this case, Patrick and Jessica were flown to Las Vegas with their three groomsmen and three bridesmaids. They also traveled to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, where Jessica bought her wedding dress.
"When I say 'whirlwind,' the average person doesn't understand, it was literally a whirlwind," said Bill Hansen, Jessica's dad who, along with Jessica's mother, sister and grandparents, were flown to Texas for the taping.
Bill Hansen said the wedding rehearsal was held on a Saturday. The wedding was taped the next morning, followed by the "big reveal" of the house in the afternoon. A made-for-TV reception was held that evening, and by Monday night the couple were moved into their new home.
The reality show often specializes in wringing every last drop of emotion from families. But the story of Patrick's recovery from near-death and Jessica's steady support of him is a naturally inspiring one, Bill Hansen said. Indeed, he finds it difficult to watch the promotional videos without feeling a welling up of emotion. In one, it shows Patrick saying of his wife, "She saved my life."
Bill Hansen said he and his, wife, Lori, at first considered inviting friends for the Sunday show, but instead opted for a smaller family gathering.
"It's one of those things where we're going to want to be home and enjoy the moment ourselves," Hansen said.