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They arrived back in York County over the weekend, but for the Keefer family, "home" has been a hotel for the past few days, while crews from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and Musser Home Builders wrapped up production and worked on their newly expanded and renovated Newberry Township house.

Tonight, the family will officially move back into their home for the first time since leaving it to the hands of their community nearly 10 days ago, on June 18.

"We're anxious to get in it," Dawn Keefer said Monday. "It's absolutely beautiful. It's like a storybook. It's not real yet."

On Monday morning, the Keefers were treated to their first full daylight glimpse of the home and newly landscaped property, after hours of filming for the show kept them up into the wee hours the night before.

"I'm sort of excited to look at it in the daylight," Dawn Keefer said, noting that following the reveal and subsequent shooting of scenes Sunday evening, the family didn't get back to their hotel until nearly 1:30 a.m.

Though the vast majority of the home is new, crews did leave one integral piece unchanged: the stairwell.

"Symbolically, we kept the steps for various reasons," explained Musser Home Builders President Jeff Musser. "One, because you need them to get to the second floor. And two, because we believe Brian Keefer will walk up them one day."

Time away

The Keefers returned home Saturday, after flying out first class for a week-long vacation in Colorado Springs, provided by the show.

Aside from the anticipation of a new home, the trip marked a special significance for the close-knit family of six - it would be the first family vacation they would take since a 2008 accident left 23-year-old Brian Keefer paralyzed from the chest down.

According to his father, Steve Keefer, "It was fantastic all being together."

At the beginning of the week, each of the Keefers had their cell phones and any computers taken away, to aid in the surprise of their home.

"We've been turned off all this week," Dawn Keefer said with a laugh. "We never knew what time it was, because we don't wear watches since we have our cell phones."

While the Keefers enjoyed their time away this past week, volunteers - more than 5,000 of them - remained hard at work, day in and day out, renovating and expanding the family's home to provide better access for Brian Keefer.

As part of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" takeover of the home, crews had just seven days to both construct a new third of the home and fix up the existing portion - all the while tending to interior design, furniture, landscaping ... and the two separate pools installed on the property Tuesday.

Impact on ‘hearts'

By Monday morning, two days after construction on the site finished on schedule, Jeff Musser could sum up his state of mind in one word: "Tired."

Musser, along with wife Beth, remained at the build for the entire week, getting a few winks of sleep here and there in their on-site RV.

"This is an amazing, incredible community. We don't deserve the credit for this. Your community does," he said Monday. "The team unity was unbelievable here. I just really want those guys to get credit."

Of those who came out to help him this week - some for more than 12 hours each shift - many were contractors whom Musser Builders would normally compete with and bid against.

"The companies that came and rallied around us, it has been a real special thing for me to get to know these guys. It's like we have a whole group of best friends that we compete against," Beth Musser said. "It was just so amazing to see Central Pennsylvania pull together and do this."

"We really had a passion for this ... to make a difference in the community," Jeff Musser added. "All of us have different gifts and abilities, and all this week, every one of us used all of our combined gifts and abilities. Years from now, all of this will be gone. What really matters is when we impact people's hearts, and in turn, they pass that on."


Going into the process, the Keefer family admitted Monday that they did harbor some initial reservations.

After all, ABC's Emmy Award-winning "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" airs in more than 180 countries around the world, according to Executive Producer Brady Connell. And the Keefers' episode - slated to be the show's two-hour season nine premiere - is expected to draw in 8 million to 10 million viewers when it airs on Sunday, Sept. 25.

"We had mixed feelings ... we were nervous about what to expect," Brian Keefer said. "There was just a plethora of emotions going around."

Pulling into their neighborhood and up Dubbers Drive Sunday - blind-folded - prior to the reveal of their home, Scott Keefer, Brian's brother, recalled, "I think all of our palms were sweaty."

"You're coming up and all you see is this gigantic bus, and you have no idea what's behind it, whether it'll be good or bad," he said, referring to the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" bus that blocks the home from sight, adding to the suspense.

"But you know all the love and hard work and TLC that went into constructing it, and that's what matters. When I turn around and look at this house, it doesn't look real to us. It looks like something out of a storybook," he said.

For Dawn Keefer, "The thing for me was seeing the 5,000 people here welcoming us into our new home. That, to me, was overwhelming."

"This all started on Father's Day," Steve Keefer noted. "And it was an amazing Father's Day gift."

Though he's worked with well over a hundred families in his years with the show, Connell said Monday that he hadn't been so moved by a family in as many episodes.

"We nailed it this time. We picked the right family. People are going to watch this all over the world, and it's going to change their lives," he said, recalling a news segment that he saw on Brian Keefer nearly one year ago.

In the video, Keefer was rehabbing in a special therapy pool at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. While in the water, he was able to lift his arms higher than he had since the accident left them paralyzed.

"I was bawling," Connell admitted, referring to the Keefers' deep family bond. "I was just so inspired by the way the family dealt with this incident. I have two children, and I would be (very proud) if I could step up and be half the father you are, Steve."

‘From our hearts'

Presenting a card to the Mussers as a token of their gratitude Monday morning, Dawn Keefer began to tear up.

"I really want to thank Jeff and Beth (Musser) and all of the people who were here volunteering. They gave us a house, and we gave them a card," she said. "I want you to know, thank you from our hearts. We could say thank you, thank you, thank you, and it would never be enough."

After thanking neighbors, in addition to the volunteers, construction crews and virtually everyone else involved with the project, she pointed out with a laugh, "We never knew 5,000 people could fit on Dubbers Drive."

"I will never be able to say thank you to 5,000 people, but you are all very special to us," Dawn Keefer added. "Please continue to pray for Brian. He will walk again."

Reflecting on his new home Monday morning, Brian Keefer cited his new wing of the home - specifically the HydroWorx therapy pool - as his favorite addition.

"It's definitely different," he said of the house. "It's a big change."

"There are memories in there," he added. "But we're going to make new memories in there."


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