By Jason A. Smith
Babbie Spain, of McDonough, says she is excited about her impending appearance on a national cable television program, not for herself, but for the attention it will bring to an issue close to her heart.
Spain, 51, a teacher at East Lake Elementary School, was recently selected to be the recipient of a makeover of her home, thanks to the producers of "Deserving Design" on HGTV.
She is a board member for the Special Olympics in Henry County. She became involved in the organization through her son, Chris, who is mentally disabled.
Earlier this year, Spain found out her long-time friend, Joyce Jacks, had submitted her name and story to the show, which renovates the homes of people who have made positive contributions to the world around them.
Spain says she was "honored" by Jacks' gesture. "I just knew it meant the Special Olympics would be recognized," she says. "We have one of the most active and growing programs in the state of Georgia. About 70-80 athletes are involved year round. It's not just track and field anymore."
Her excitement grew further on her birthday, June 4, when she learned her 70-year-old home, along with her story, would be featured on the program. She says the producers of the show, as well as host, Vern Yip, made efforts to bring out the best her house had to offer. "They asked us what kind of style we have in our house, and they kept some of what I already have," says Spain. "They also spent one full day with us and all the athletes. They interviewed several of [them], so they'll be on TV, too."
One of the rooms which was remade is actually adjacent to the main house itself. Designers with the TV program decorated the facility in the colors of Spain's favorite sports team.
"We used to call it the party house," she sys. "It will now be called the Dawg House, because it's done in Georgia Bulldog colors."
Spain says Yip and his staff, in typical "Deserving Design" fashion, also gave her an additional surprise, as part of the renovation effort. "They made over my bedroom," she says, declining to release too many details until the program's airing. "They made it like a little retreat for me."
Joyce Jacks has known Spain for years, dating back to Spain's days as a cheerleading coach at Eagle's Landing High School. Jacks, who is an avid HGTV viewer, says she jumped at the chance to recognize Spain's contributions to the community through the TV program. "After I saw the show and what [host] Vern Yip was doing, I thought Babbie was a natural to be on the show, because of how much she has given to the Special Olympics in Henry County."
Spain hopes her story will educate others about her passion for the Special Olympics, as well as the determined athletes to whom she has dedicated her life.
"My kids are very positive they can do a lot of things, and they don't always have reason to be positive," she says.
Spain's home renovation is scheduled to be featured on "Deserving Design" in January.