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Extreme Makeover: The Legacy of Sparrow Clubs

By Erin Maxson, Danielle Craig & KDRV Staff

MEDFORD, Ore. — A huge part of why the McPhails were chosen for Extreme Makeover is their role in Sparrow Clubs.

The organization started in Southern Washington in 1992 with a little boy who had weeks to live and high school student named Dameon. Dameon donated $60 toward Michael Leeland’s $200,000 surgery costs and that inspired Michael’s father to start Sparrow Clubs. Nearly 10 years later, C.J McPhail opened the Southern Oregon chapter, never thinking it would lead to this.

“To know that we got to be a part of something that really, truly highlighted them and showed the depth of what they do in our community and in other communities around the nation, it’s really exciting,” said Matt Sampson, the coordinator of Southern Oregon Sparrow Clubs.

The recession hit Sparrow Clubs hard. Once in 25 states, a strategic move scaled the program back three years ago, but it’s now growing again, and in a very big way. When Extreme Makeover producers asked Matt Sampson to help set up a Sparrow Club in Hawaii, he was skeptical.

“Well, I don’t know. We don’t have any relationships over there. It can take some time and we only have a week to pull this off. I really don’t think we can do it,” said Sampson.

Nonetheless, Extreme Makeover went to extremes to get it done and a little boy named Dustin is now Hawaii’s first Sparrow. Island Pacific Academy is thrilled to be a part of organization. C.J. McPhail and Dustin’s parents met with the students in Hawaii and Island Pacific is confident supporting the family won’t be a problem.

It’s all part of a legacy that started with a young man who emptied his savings account and created legacy that now has wings.

Both Sparrow Clubs and Families For Communities received $8,000, which was extra money from the Family Build Fund. An Extreme fundraising effort was made by lots of local business like Airport Chevy and Ark Built, raising a total $106,000 and, of course, all the community members who did their part to provide the family with a trust of $50,000. That money is expected to cover the McPhails household bills, allowing them to pay the property taxes, which will begin next year.