York, PA - It was love at first sight.
The moment Cailey Shimko laid eyes on Ed Sanders, that was it. Head over heels.
Maybe it was his accent; Ed is from England. Maybe it was his manner and the way he's always clowning around and joking and playing with the kids, being a big kid himself. Maybe it was that the first time she remembers seeing him, he was wearing a funny hat and a toga.
She remembers the episode when Ed sliced his hand open with a table saw and had to be rushed to the hospital. She remembers being worried that he wouldn't be able to work on the show anymore.
She feels as if she knows him.
It's a lot of things. All she knows is that of the people on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," Ed is, no question, no doubt, her absolute favorite. She likes him even more than the show's star, Ty Pennington.
So when she heard Ed was going to be one of the designers on the site of the show's project at the Keefer home in Newberry Township, she wanted to make sure he would be there. Her mother, Jamie, called her aunt, whose daughter has a friend who lives in the neighborhood, to check to see whether it was true.
And so, on Friday, for the second time this week, Jamie Shimko brought Cailey, 9, and her little sister, Carley, 5, from their home in Manchester to the construction site in hopes of catching a glimpse of Ed. The trip is not effortless. First, they had to drive to Red Mill Elementary and catch a bus to get to the neighborhood. Then, from the bus, they had to hike, uphill, through backyards to the house, on the cul-de-sac at the terminus of Dubbers Hill Drive.
When she went to the site Wednesday, she didn't see Ed. It was still fun to see the site and watch the work, but without an Ed sighting, it wasn't as great as it could have been. A girl standing next to her Friday, 10-year-old Jessica Staley, of Mount Wolf, there with her mother, Margie White, had been at the site Tuesday and got to meet show designers Tracy Hutson and Paulie DeMeo. Jessica told Cailey that she got to shake Paulie's hand. She told her mother she was never going to wash her hand again. Margie said she probably let her go to bed that night without washing her hand, but forever, no, that wasn't happening.
Friday morning, Cailey stood at the steel fence erected to keep on-lookers from wandering into the construction site/TV set and watched as crews crawled over the property, dozens of volunteers performing dozens of tasks aimed at one goal, like the highly structured choreography of ants building a colony. Crews were planting sod. Other crews were working on a sliding glass door. A parade of Bobcats and front-loaders ferried sod and trees and other materials to the site.
She and her mother and sister got there first thing -- shortly after the site was opened to spectators at 10 a.m. And just a few moments after they arrived, she got to see Ed, about 50 yards away, talking to some of the construction crew. She was so excited, she dropped her water bottle.
She and her family and friends started chanting: "We want Ed! We want Ed! We want Ed!"
And then, it happened. Ed turned to them and waved.
And resumed chanting.
Ed turned again and waved.
Cailey would have swooned, if she were the swooning type, which she's not.
"That," she said, "made my year."
Other voices from the spectator area
Jim Reed, of New Cumberland, came to the site because his daughter was among the volunteers working on the project. He is a regular viewer of the show -- he mostly watches sports because most of what's on TV, he says, is "junk" -- and had only come out of curiosity.
He is a retired union carpenter -- he worked on Three Mile Island, among other big projects -- and wanted to see how the crew was able to complete such a large project in such a short period of time.
"I worked in the trade for 40 years," he said, "and we thought it was tough to turn around a school project in 12 weeks. Doing this in one week is pretty impressive."
Anne Hunsicker, of Littlestown, brought her kids to the site because she wanted them to see it.
"It makes you feel good because people are volunteering their time and materials to help someone out," she said. "You don't see that a lot nowadays."
The show, she said, "makes me cry every time I watch it."
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