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Home Depot Gives UCO Apartments an Extreme Makeover for Paralympic Athletes

There was no Ty Pennington, no giant megaphone and no big bus to move. But the renovations at UCO's Broncho III apartments are certainly extreme thanks to a team of hardworking volunteers from Oklahoma City Metro area Home Depot stores.

The refurbished apartments, located just off University Drive, now house Paralympic athletes who are training on UCO's campus.

UCO serves as an official United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Paralympic Training Site for several disabled athletes training for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

Home Depot kicked off the renovation in May, with more than 75 volunteers doing landscaping, replacing doors and walls, installing new cabinets and more.

"We put up a sign up sheet for our community outreach events like this, and usually we have to cut it off at some point because so many people want to participate," said Amber Tilley, Home Depot's head for this project.

"Giving back to our community is very important to us."

There are eight apartments in the complex, with the Home Depot employees completing the renovation of three apartments, plus the landscaping, in May and three more apartments in June.

Aside from volunteer manpower, Home Depot also brought donated equipment and supplies to use from their partners at Mohawk Carpets, Pavestone, Anderson/Emco Doors. Spectrum/Vigero Gross Products, American Shower and Bath Surround, Dynamic Tile Installation and Ground Hog Landscape.

Prior to the Home Depot renovation, one other apartment had already been renovated by Mathis Brothers Furniture. Paralympic archer T.J. Pemberton has been living in that unit.

Bockus Payne Architects, Turner & Company and VanHoose Construction have committed to assisting in the renovation of one other apartment.

Much of the furnishings for the apartment have or will be purchased using grant funds from the Tulsa-based Hille Foundation.

"The community has really rallied around the athletes who are training here at UCO. We have been overwhelmed by the response from those who want to make sure their training experience is a positive one," said Katrina Shaklee, Assistant Director for Disabled Sports & Events.

Members of the men's and women's U.S. Paralympic Sitting Volleyball Team will be moving into the units as soon as they are ready.

UCO has become a leader in the development and training of disabled athletes. In addition to being designated an official USOC Paralympic Training Site in 2005, the university also hosts the Endeavor Games each year and provides training facilities for youth teams. UCO is also a USOC Community Partner and assists with educational programs conducted by the USOC.

(Photo:  A local Home Depot employee proudly displays a tile signed by his co-workers which they installed into the new housing form Paralympic athletes at UCO in May 2007)

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