dream is finally a reality: the Paunis have a new home
HOOPLA: Ty Pennington
works the crowd as Polynesian dancers entertain at the
revealing of the new Pauni home. / Photo by Rebekah
By Kathryn Kemp
October 23, 2006 | The moment everyone was waiting
for finally came and went Sunday afternoon, leaving
emotions high, a community changed for the better
and a deserving family with a new home.
"It's just unbelievable," said Troy
Kartchner, president of Kartchner Homes, the company
that built the house.
The builders, along with numerous other subcontractors
and companies, worked around the clock all week
long to be able to complete the home in time for
the family's return on Sunday.
Hours before the family even arrived home, hundreds
of people were stretched out along the road for
a block and then wrapped around to the other side
of the street, waiting to cheer the family on
as the new home was revealed.
While they waited, the spectators were entertained
by a Polynesian band and dancers called Malia
Oloe. Some of the members are related to the Pauni's
through their father and were more than willing
to participate when the producers called them.
Fifteen young girls and six older girls in grass
skirts and feather headdresses did various Polynesian
dances to the fast and rhythmic beats of the various
types of drums played by five band members.
"This is just the big family she-bang,"
said group leader Oliana Tuia.
Although the crowd enjoyed the dancers, the
main event came at about 1:45 in the afternoon
when an SUV-style limousine carrying the members
of the Pauni family rolled up to the newly built
house, where the family would see it for the first
In the tradition of Extreme Makeover: Home
Edition episodes, when the family arrived
there was a huge bus in front of the house so
the family couldn't see it until host Ty Pennington
was ready to show it to them.
Pennington gathered the family in a circle and
talked with them and then, along with the whole
family, shouted, "Move that bus!"
Unfortunately they had to do it three times
(that's show business) to get it on camera, before
the bus finally started up and pulled away to
the sound of a cheering crowd.
The reaction of the family was better than anyone
could have expected.
As soon as they saw the house, some began jumping
and screaming, others began crying, and one Pauni
son even went to his knees in amazement. Most
touching however, was how the children circled
around their crying mother, hugging her tightly
as the reality set in.
Paunis celebrate, above and below. Bottom, more
scenes from Sunday's impromptu street party. /
Photos by Rebekah Bradway
"The family's reaction was so priceless,"
said Tracy Hutson, a cast member.
The crew of Kartchner Homes and the rest of the Extreme
Makeover cast then joined the family in the middle
of the road, hugging and thanking each other.
"It was wonderful to come over to them and see
their tears of joy and love," said Troy Kartchner,
president of Kartchner Homes. He said he wishes everyone
could have been able to give the Pauni family hug because
they are such a great and deserving family.
"Thank you everyone!" shouted an emotional
George Pauni who took some time to shake hands and hug
some friends in the crowd before rejoining his family's
Even Kartchner and Pennington shared a hug for a job
Will Wheelwright, a radio announcer for 95.9 KLZX,
told Kartchner that he had seen the show several times
and said, "That's the best reaction I have ever
seen of any family."
Ed Sanders, carpenter and cast member, said that it's
people like the Pauni's and days like Sunday that is
the reason they do this show.
"They deserve us guys being here," he said.
And he thinks they came just in time. The old house
was falling apart and the family had no way to fix it.
But despite that, they made the best of what they had
and served others in the process, and that is what made
them such a deserving family.
"It's not until you see a family like this that
you realize how good your life really is," Sanders
Along with the new house and the cash donations from
the community, the Pauni family was given an RV from
Camping World and FreedomRoads, with the name of their
catering business, "D.J. Island Catering,"
printed on the side. The oldest siblings will also receive
five full-ride scholarships to Stevens-Henager College
to get Bachelor's degrees, an amount that totals $274,500,
said Howard Ballif, the admissions consultant for the
Logan campus. The younger siblings will have access
to an $8,000 Legacy Grant, meaning they will have $8,000
off tuition if they attend school there in the future.
There has been no end to the support the Paunis have
received from the community and the role they played
did not go unnoticed or unrecognized by the cast, crew
"I don't know what it is about Utah, but it's
always, always, always a great crowd," Sanders
said. Likewise, Hutson said she has loved her time in
Logan and everyone has been wonderful to her.
"If I needed anything or just getting stressed
out, I could just look in the Yellow Pages and call
anyone," she said.
Kartchner said the Extreme Makeover staff
has told him they don't experience in most cities what
they have experienced her in Logan.
"I've seen a few of them get emotional as they've
talked about what they've felt," he said.
Now the TV crews are leaving, the crowds are thinning,
and real life will begin again for the hundreds of people
who put it on hold this week. The glamour will soon
fade away, but the effect it has had on the Pauni family
will not. This home wasn't just a free gift; it is a
reward that came as a result of their hard work. Not
just to survive, but to make the world a better place.
Sanders put it simply when he said, "The Paunis
deserve every square foot of that house."
The Paunis' new RV for their catering service. /
Photo by Brook Barker