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Next celebrity on set: Jeb

Published March 11, 2005

As the deadline to finish the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition project in Seminole looms, Gov. Jeb Bush on Saturday plans to visit crews that erected a 3,500-square-foot house in less than seven days and congratulate them on the effort and the show's charitable deeds.

Bush is scheduled to visit shortly after noon at the 99th Way N home of James Dolan, the 30-year-old father of three blinded in the Nov. 18 RadioShack shootings in St. Petersburg. Two others were shot and killed in the attack before the gunman killed himself.

ABC's Extreme Makeover crew has worked with Lexington Homes since Sunday on the quiet neighborhood, first demolishing the Dolan's 1960s-era ranch house, then replacing it with a new house custom-designed to meet a blind person's needs.

In addition to more than 1,000 volunteers, professional builders, and television crew members, hundreds of fans have gathered at the site daily to see star Ty Pennington and other cast members, while neighbors, schools, Girl Scouts and others have donated food and supplies.

The Dolan family was whisked from their home Sunday on a vacation to Puerto Rico while ABC filmed the Extreme Makeover for a show expected to air in five to eight weeks. They are due to return Sunday, with the unveiling sometime between noon and 4 p.m. Visitors are welcome, but encouraged to park at the Tyrone Square mall where buses will offer free rides from the northwest parking lot to the neighborhood, where parking is scarce.

The project started big and has snowballed as volunteers and donations rolled in. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays announced a $2,500 donation Friday to help pay for training of a donated guide dog, and the Dolans' Lutheran church, Christ the King of Largo, has raised more than $37,000 for the family through the Lutheran Thrivent Financial group.

Also, University of South Florida Dean Louis Martin-Vega announced a scholarship to the university's engineering college for the Dolans' 12-year-old son, Charlie, who has an intense interest in robotics; East Lake High School's robotics team is designing Charlie's bedroom with a custom robotic arm; and a national organization of engineering students, Project Lead the Way, has offered to pay for Charlie's college engineering textbooks.

Project spokesman John Riddle said Friday the project was more than 10 hours ahead of schedule. Exterior work continued, with painters touching up the stucco walls and crews pouring the concrete driveway and installing landscaping.

[Last modified March 12, 2005, 08:06:45]

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