Monticello, Minnesota

A possibility exists that ABC Television’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition show-a weekly reality-based program featuring gargantuan giveaways for deserving families-will make its way to the Monticello area in the near future, if the show’s producers select Big Lake residents Heidi and Erik Noraas to be upcoming recipients of the show’s famous charitable largesse.

A decision is expected to be made soon, and it’s likely the Extreme Makeover bus will be pulling up in some lucky Minnesotan’s driveway early this spring. But, in the interest of maintaining suspense, the show’s executives are adhering to a traditional hush-hush protocol until the bus stops and the show’s star, Ty Pennington, enthusiastically announces the Extreme Makeover team’s arrival.

The family, as well as many friends, relatives and coworkers, underwent extensive scrutiny last August, Heidi said, following a call from a producer of the show and the pursuant filling out of applications and related paperwork.

“Currently, we’re still in the running,” said Heidi, who owns and operates the Golden Touch Salon in Monticello. “We’re in the top 20 now, and we need to wait to see if we’re in the top five. We should get a phone call if we’re in the top five, and at that point, we won’t know until they show up with the bus.”

The Noraases were nominated as candidates for Extreme Home Makeovers by the family of Bridget Gorman, whose husband, Martin Gorman of Big Lake, received a life-saving kidney from Eric in February 2006. In a testimonial posted on Extreme Home Makeovers’ Web site, Bridget explains her reasons for nominating the Noraas family, telling of their youngest son’s developmental disabilities ( a result of meningitis contracted at the age of 10 days), of Heidi’s battle with cancer, of Erik’s service in Bosnia with the National Guard and his selfless gift of a vital organ to a man he’d never met.

“The home they have is in need of a makeover, as they have no room in the 1,100 square-foot house for their family,” Gorman wrote. “They enjoy and welcome all friends and family to their home and have helped many people in times of need for a place to stay. Their son, who goes to speech and occupational therapy ongoing, desperately needs more space so that they may improve his therapy and be able to offer more for him at home. They also have friends who are both in wheel chairs, and they do enjoy bringing them out to their home, but it makes it very tough for them to access the house, as there are not ramps for them to enter their home. Both Erik and Heidi work full-time jobs and manage their family life 24 hours, seven days a week. The two older children are often left to wait for their attention, as their 5-year-old son takes a lot of time.”

While the Noraases’ house is small, Bridget continues, it is also in need of extensive repair due to mold issues that have also raised health concerns for the entire family.

Five-year-old Sean is walking, but does not talk and tends to be hyperactive.

“We’re trying to calm him down,” Heidi said. “Teaching him is real hard.”

Sean attends special education classes at Eastview, where he receives speech and occupational therapy. He is in classes from 12:30-4 p.m. each weekday, Heidi said, and has a personal care attendant when his mother is at work. While the thought of a larger, accessible home is tantalizing, she said, she’s trying not to let herself or her children get too excited about the possibility.

“We try not to talk about it too much,” she said. “We tell the kids that if we don’t get picked, it’s because they chose somebody more deserving.”

Part of the criteria for selection, she said, involves the number of willing volunteers their advocates can recruit for the massive undertaking of replacing a home in one week. To volunteer or add your name to a petition on the Noraas family’s behalf, visit