Late Thursday evening, Randy Fletcher made his way from Peru down U.S. 31 headed toward the Bunker Hill build site for ABC-TV reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Fletcher knew he was in the right location long before reaching his destination.

“I was by Grissom [Reserve Force Base] and you could see the whole area was lit up. It looked like a little city from 31,” said Fletcher, owner of The Kreole Kid, an on-site catering business. “It was something to see.”

So was the site itself.

On-and-off rain showers made the work area and the spectator/vendor area a muddy mess Friday afternoon.

Anderson-based Hallmark Homes Inc. and hundreds of volunteers started construction Thursday and are working around the clock for 106 hours until Tuesday to build a home for the Cowan-Brown family at 11040 S. 100 West in Miami County.

The Cowan-Brown’s 12-year-old daughter, Kori, suffers from a congenital blood disease. She has raised $35,000 for the American Cancer Society, honoring a friend who suffered from cancer.

The family is currently at Disneyland in California while volunteers build a home in 106 hours — an endeavor that Hallmark Homes said normally takes about six months.

The episode of the Cowan-Brown build is tentatively scheduled to air in January. The show, which is in its seventh season, airs from 8 to 9 p.m. Sundays on ABC.

Fletcher’s was one of more than 35 businesses with banners in the VIP tent.

“I am glad I came down Thursday, otherwise my trailer would had never made it out here,” said Fletcher, who was feeding workers and volunteers more than 200 tenderloin sandwiches Friday.

“It’s a little sloppy out here, but I am glad to be out here.”

In addition to his tenderloins — which Fletcher seasons before he breads and cooks them — Fletcher is feeding more than 1,000 people his Louisiana specialties: Blackened dishes, pork entrees and fried catfish.

“I am not making a dime here, but that’s is not what this is about. Bill’s Meat Market in Peru cut the tenderloins for me for free. My pork supplier, Vin-Le-Ron, got on board and donated 200 pounds of pork,” said Fletcher. “This isn’t about me being here. It’s about being here and helping others.

“When you do something good for others, it comes back to you.”

Matt Smith owns the On-The-Way shop located near Grissom. His store supplied drinks for workers. Today and Tuesday he will provide 500 meals, as well.

“We were contacted about four weeks ago and jumped right on this,” said Smith, who is also featuring his small “Rabbit Pellet” ice cubes to keep drinks cold.

“We have always done community-based projects but nothing of this magnitude. It has always been on a smaller scale. It’s good for our business, but it’s also good for the community.”

From volunteers coming as far as Pendleton to assist, laboring for a community cause was the name of the game on a wet Friday afternoon.

“I used to work out here at Grissom and I worked on the home [Extreme Makeover: Home Edition] built this past March in Indianapolis,” said Mary Howard. “As a former Army officer, I am fascinated by the logistics of this and what can be accomplished in one week. I am excited about this. It’s the coolest thing you can do so I am out here to do it again.”

Tashia St. Clair will also do it again this weekend.

The Sweet Poppin’s owner not only has her gourmet-flavored, chocolate-covered popcorn in the VIP tent, but Sunday she will participate in the Family Day activities where she will sell her popcorn and donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.

“I am bringing out a different flavor each day for people to sample,” said St. Clair. “I like being involved in community-related events and I am glad I could participate.”

Businesses represented at the site were not the only ones receiving extreme exposure from the project.

The bus driver shuttling workers and volunteers from Grissom to the build site encouraged people to spend their dollars in Miami County.

Furthermore, at the Subway restaurant on U.S. 31 near Grissom, worker Hydi Derion said business has increased there as well because of the home-building extravaganza.

“We are usually slow in the afternoons, but we have had people stopping in the last few days telling us they are going out there or coming from there,” said Derion. “This has been good for our business, too.”

• K.O. Jackson is the Kokomo Tribune’s business writer. He can be reached at (765) 854-6739 or via e-mail kirven.jackson@kokomotribune.com

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