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Wittenberg Provides Full-Tuition Waivers For Children Featured On Episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

November 8, 2009  
 Filed in Community, Events, Featured Events

Springfield, Ohio — At 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, millions of viewers witnessed Wittenberg’s mission in action when the episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition featuring Wittenberg’s half-million dollar gift of full-tuition waivers – believed to be the largest educational gift by total dollar value in the show’s history – for the Terpenning family’s four young children aired on ABC.

Reflecting its longstanding commitment to service and tradition of giving back, Wittenberg changed the lives of Josselyn, 6, Jacob and Justin, 2, and Joshua Terpenning, 1, as part of the hit ABC TV show, which built the Terpenning family a brand-new home in nearby Beavercreek, Ohio. The family learned of Wittenberg’s “extreme” gift, which exceeds $540,000 based on today’s tuition rate, during the actual filming in August. The gift also surprised the producers as it is one of the largest educational gifts in the show’s seven-year history.

“When we read about the family, it became clear that James and Shannon have lived lives of compassion, selflessness and service,” said President Mark H. Erickson. “These are the same values Wittenberg embraces in its own mission, so we knew we needed to help. It was the right thing to do.”

Production of the episode took an additional six to eight weeks after filming with an air date officially announced in early October. A campus-wide viewing Nov. 8 in the university’s dining facility brought the Wittenberg community together to watch the episode, and plans are underway to bring the Terpenning family to campus soon.

“We are simply thrilled that we were able to offer this to the Terpenning family,” said Karen Hunt, director of admission.

Throughout his life, James Terpenning, a computer specialist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, U.S. Paralympics gold medalist and mentor to disabled Iraqi War veterans, has inspired countless students, friends, acquaintances and colleagues with his outreach efforts. Crippled by polio during infancy and rescued by the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam during Operation Baby Lift in 1975, Terpenning was adopted by an Ohio family. He has since dedicated his life to giving back not only to the Air Force in his work, but also in his daily living.

No one knows the boundless strength of Terpenning’s character and compassion better than his wife, Shannon, his adopted brother, Joseph, who has cerebral palsy, and their four children, who will now have the opportunity to receive an education from one of the top-ranked liberal arts schools in the nation.

“We look forward to getting to know the family and each child in the years ahead,” Hunt said.

A designated military-friendly school with its participation in the Yellow Ribbon program, Wittenberg University is a nationally recognized college for the liberal arts and sciences affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. With more than 80 majors, minors and special programs, Wittenberg challenges students to become responsible global citizens, to discover their callings, and to lead personal, professional, and civic lives of creativity, service, compassion, and integrity.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is an Emmy award-winning reality program now entering its 7th season and produced by Endemol USA, a division of Endemol Holding. It is executive-produced by Anthony Dominici. David Goldberg is chairman, Endemol North America. The show airs Sundays from 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET on ABC.

Written by: Karen Gerboth
Photo by: Erin Pence

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