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Sparky and the I.C.E. Tour make an impact on the latest Alure/Extreme Makeover project

Monday, 06.28.2010 / 10:22 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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On the afternoon of Sunday, June 27, Sparky the New York Islanders mascot and thousands of spectators stood on Riverneck Lane in East Setauket waiting to welcome home the Lutz family and MOVE THAT BUS!

Sunday, the final day the show taped on Long Island, closed out a week of New York Islanders involvement in the project.

Sparky and the New York Islanders I.C.E. Tour were not only on hand to welcome the Lutz’s back home, but were a presence during the week. Sparky even helped Extreme Makeover host Ty Pennington work on the house!

All week long, volunteers were busy working in the blazing hot sun on the Lutz family home. Dressed in blue shirts and white hard-hats, they moved piles of lumber and operated cranes, while tractors moved dirt and concrete trucks poured a brand new foundation.

But Sparky played an important part of motivating the volunteers.

“Sparky has been all over the place,” said Bill Hankee, Islanders I.C.E. Tour representative. “He’s helped build bird houses with some of the kids and he’s been playing some of the games that are set up on the other side of the kids’ tent.”

“The Islanders have promotional tables set up with various prizes and we have our prize wheel set up to get the young volunteers involved. We’ve already had a few kids and parents actually win tickets to games for the upcoming season,” Hankee said.

Alure Home Improvements of East Meadow, Long Island has partnered with the Emmy-winning show seven times. Now on his eighth build, Sal Ferro, CEO of Alure Home Improvements, loves being able to help out his Long Island community.

“It feels great to not only lead the build but to emotionally connect with the family,” said Ferro. “Like I’ve told everybody, all Alure Home Improvements can do is lead the build. It takes a whole community to really make it happen.”
Extreme Makeover designer Paul DiMeo said “The Islanders have always been very strong in the community... It’s great to have you guys coming out here supporting Sal and Alure, the Lutz family and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

While on the set entertaining spectators, Sparky was given a short tour of the grounds by the hit ABC series’ host Ty Pennington. He helped stir up some emotion in the crowd, was shown where the crew plans to put a swimming pool and also helped some of the volunteers move the frame of a wall.
“Between the NY Islanders, the LI Ducks, the NY Yankees, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the local sports teams,” Ferro said.

What is really bringing this community together is the Lutz family. The late Grace and John Lutz were truly kind-hearted people. Unable to have children of their own, they adopted 18 kids. Kathleen Lutz, their oldest child, moved home after her parents passed away to take care of the six of her siblings who have Down Syndrome. When Kathleen became sick, her younger brother John Jr. also moved in to help take care of the family.

“What touches me most about the Lutz family is the unconditional love and sacrifice. [Kathleen] Lutz left her career, left her own life, to dedicate her life full-time to her brothers and sisters,” said Ferro. “They require a lot of attention, a lot of her time and love.”

Teamed with DiMeo, Pennington and the rest of the Extreme Makeover crew, the men and women of Alure Home Improvements are dedicated to building a great home for the Lutz family.
“Six of the brothers and sisters have Down Syndrome so some of the design took that into consideration,” Ferro said. “Some of the design took into consideration their personalities, what would work to help them get the exercise and recreation they want, what are their interests. So that was a major part of the whole design process to truly reflect the needs and the desires of the boys and girls.”

Ferro has become good friends with many of the designers, including DiMeo. With the I.C.E. Crew on site, the two hockey fans were inspired to talk shop:

Ferro: That’s right Long Island, I’m a big Islanders fan.

DiMeo: Well I’m a big Flyers fan. We made a nice run for the Stanley Cup, my Flyers.

Ferro: Did you win the Stanley cup?

DiMeo: No we didn’t win the Stanley Cup.

Ferro: So why talk about it if you didn’t win it.

DiMeo: Because we went to the Stanley Cup. Well, I’m wondering what your Islanders did.

Ferro: My Islanders are rebuilding. They have a great group of core guys. I just played golf with Bruno Gervais. I’m going to his golf outing up in Montreal when this is done. We have a great group of guys. Okay? You have a bunch of old guys, who didn’t win the Stanley Cup. And that’s what you want to brag about.

DiMeo: I think one of the keys here is that we’re all hockey fans. When it comes to sports, there’s nothing like the NHL. Whether you’re an Islanders fan, whether you’re a Flyers fan, a Carolina Hurricanes fan, it really doesn’t matter.

Ferro: We’re all Lutz fans!

SIDEBAR: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a reality television series on ABC. Ty Pennington and the rest of ABC’s design team travel around the country searching for local heroes, community leaders and inspirational families with heart-wrenching stories, whose homes are deemed unfit for their needs. At the beginning of the week, the homes are demolished and by the end of the week a new home sits in its place. The show airs on ABC on Sunday evenings.




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