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Thursday, April 16, 2009

EMHE The Kadzis Family - Aired Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009

I’ve got to get this posted. I can hardly think straight. I can hardly see through the tears! I am not all right. It’s taken me so long to post this because I can’t stop crying. Every time I begin to write, I start crying again. Ben had to be on my lap during the whole two hour show. It impacted us in such a strong way.

I think this one touched me so deeply because of the death of both of my parents to cancer. Dad in 1970 of Lung cancer, and mom in 1987 from complications from breast cancer. I don’t think you ever “get over” something like that. I think you just “get through” it. It impacts you for the rest of your life, hopefully not as severely as in the beginning. (Crying... need to stop for a minute.)

Dr. George Kadzis (Dentist) fought and won the battle with brain tumors in 2005. He now has stage 4 brain cancer and he is not going to get better. He knew his family would be fine because they have each other, but their house was too small for the family of 9! (I can relate!) One of the children (Martin) slept on the couch in the living room.

George wanted his family to have a safe secure home. That would give him peace, knowing that he would be leaving Barbara to raise the children. (Crying again. I can’t seem to get through this.)

The night before the ABC EMHE Design Team came, George was hospitalized. The swelling in his brain was just too much. He was experiencing (hopefully temporary) blindness, plus additional symptoms that were not really discussed.

The Kadzis family adopted six children from Chinese orphanages, five of them with special needs. Most of these children are considered “unadoptable” due to their special conditions. I have been told that in China, these children are considered “Unlucky” and Chinese people will not (I have to put in: in most cases.) adopt them. When they go home to be with their new family’s, then they are considered “Lucky.” The Kadzis family sought after these children, to give them a home and a family. What a special heart for children!

How the design team treated each of these children is especially noteworthy. Michael Maloney took the time to guide Melody’s hand down the length of the stretch limo, while he described it, so she could really know and experience what the family was leaving for vacation in.

Paige Hemmis tried learning some sign language as she was getting to know Aileen and Julia. Paige took pictures in the sand outside their vacation home, for their ocean/stars room. These girls had the cutest bumper sticker: "Made in China, Loved in the USA"

ABC and Extreme Makeover Home Edition Design Team gave this unique family a distinctive local vacation so that Barbara could be close to George in the hospital. EMHE rented them a beautiful beach vacation home right there in Tallahassee, FL.

Kadzis Family:

George (Dad). Loving, Devoted husband and father.

Barbara (Mom). A very strong wife and mother. You know this family will be all right, but you just want, so much, for her long-time friend, confidant and husband to be all right too. For Barbara's sake.

Chris (Age 16) Boy. Very understated, intuitive son. Music themed room

Aileen (Age 15) Girl. Beautifully articulate and helps her sister speak via sign language. Beach room shared with sister Julia.

Melody (Age 14) Girl. Blind at birth. Definitley understated. She was adopted at an older age, and had never lived in a family before. George and Barbara felt that she had the most difficult time with the old house. We all got the impression that this teenaged child had a lot to say. She just wanted a bookshelf to hold her partial Braille Holy Bible, which looked to be home-bound.

Julia (Age 13). Girl. Deaf. In China, she could not receive the education she needed to learn to talk. Here she is learning, and thriving. Her sister Aileen helps her out a lot. She wanted a room with stars. 

Martin (Age 10) Boy. Missing several bones in his arms at birth. Ever since he came to the U.S. he has been obsessed with American Trains. Received a specially designed Caboose bed with a trundle that held a model train.

Phoenix (Age 9) Girl. She was the first Kadzis family adoption. She was born with a cleft  palate, and required several surgeries, first in China, then in the U.S. Phoenix begged her mom and dad for a little sister, and they adopted Celeste!

Celeste (Age 6) Girl. She was also born with a cleft palate, and required several surgeries. Phoenix and Celeste both want to be teachers. Celeste wants to be an art teacher. The Design Team gave them a school bedroom.

The Tallahassee, FL community came together and made “Welcome Home” and “Get Well” cards for George and Barbara. Barbara took the “Get Well” cards to the hospital for George to enjoy. (Crying, again!) The love and mutual respect of these two was so apparent.

They are a very musically talented family. Barbara and George said that when the children would initially come home from China, they couldn’t communicate except that music was a universal language. Michael designed a music room with a baby grand piano, and made a unique art piece out of retired musical instruments above it.

I really think Ty Pennington connected with this family; offering hugs and stability at the appropriate times to Barbara. He was so respectful to especially when it came to George. The camera’s were not invited into the hospital room, and Ty was very reverent of that. (Crying yet again. I told you, I am a mess!) You kind of saw everything through a haze. I am so glad for that, because in the future, these children may want to watch the video of this episode, and they won’t have to be reminded of George’s last few days.

The family signed “Bus driver, move that bus!” together. That was so beautiful! Visually, practically and sentimentally.

So let me tell you, that Melody, the understated teenage girl that was blind since birth, was so much fun to watch when she got to “see” her room! The designers of the Kadzis home gave her a 3/16’ scale model of their new 3600 square foot, single level home, in order to help her make a “mind map” of it. This should help her to be independent much quicker, because it is so hard for people who are blind to function in new surroundings. Her room came with a new specialized computer system with a scanner, and a braille reader so she can “read” books that are not available in braille yet. 

Melody received the Complete Hard Bound Edition of The Holy Bible, written in Braille. How absolutely fabulous, because this meant so much to Melody! I love that part of EMHE... they try so hard to make everything so individually special.

The EMHE Design Team gave her a scanner system in the kitchen that reads bar coded labels. This helps her be more independent in the kitchen. She will be able to choose her own snacks, and I would imagine be able to eventually help out with the cooking.

The Design Team for this episode:

Ty Pennington - George and Barbara’s master bedroom, and bathroom (I think it was handicapped accessible, but you couldn’t really tell that.) Designed to help with George’s recovery.

Paige Hemmis - matched with Aileen, Julia, Phoenix, and Celeste. She took all the girls!

Michael Maloney - Interior design of the house, and Chris’ musical bedroom.

John Littleton - matched with Martin, designed the Caboose bed, and train trundle, with an amazing Train mural, and individualized work/study desk.

And finally, as a special gift to the Kadzis Family; EMHE brought in Stevie Wonder. Mr. Wonder sang a specially adjusted version of “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” Specially adjusted to reflect the Kadzis Family. It was so touching. He is such an amazing musician, and an positive representation for special needs people. (Crying, yes again.)

George Kadzis did not get to come home to his new home. He passed away three days after the Family moved in to the new home.

My deepest sympathy to Barbara Kadzis. Your love for George is a testament to all of us. I am so happy that ABC and EMHE came to help you, and that George was able to know that prior to his passing.

George Kadzis (1952 - 2009)


  1. This post is a beautiful tribute to this family and their dad/husband. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I just finished watching the full episode of the Kadzis family. I had to get online to find more information about this amazing family. Thank you for taking the time to put this post together Cottonpickinfarm!