While Hopkins teachers Erik and Vicki Swenson and their family visit
the Magic Kingdom, a team of designers, builders and volunteers is
creating magic of their own for the family, who will return to a new
house more than twice the size of the one they left earlier this week.
The Swensons received the news Aug. 21 that they had been chosen for a
segment of ABC-TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which selects
two dozen deserving families each season to receive new, custom-built
homes as a result of challenging circumstances. Shortly after the
news, the family left on vacation, and work began on their new home.
Fellow educators in Hopkins nominated the Swensons after the death of
Vicki’s sister. Teri Lee was shot and killed in her Washington County
home by an abusive ex-boyfriend Sept. 22, 2006, in front of her
11-year-old daughter. Lee’s husband died in a car accident several
The Swenson-Lee family
The Swensons, who have three daughters — a 10-year-old and
18-month-old twins — adopted Lee’s four children, who range in age
now from 6 to 12. And the Swensons are expecting a daughter in early
November, bringing their family of nine to a total of 10.
After leaving their three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath, 2,300-square-foot home,
they’ll return Tuesday to a home with 5,600 square feet, seven
bedrooms and five bathrooms. The project will be featured in a
two-hour special edition Nov. 25, the show’s 100th episode.
Vicki not only opened her home to her nieces and nephews, but became
an advocate to protect women and children from domestic abuse, helping
write two bills to provide greater protections. She’s a family and
consumer sciences teacher on leave of absence, although she recently
returned to Hopkins to coach volleyball. Erik, an Education Minnesota
member, is a world studies teacher at the high school.
Nominating the family isn’t the only support colleagues have shown
them since the tragedy. Local union members worked with the
administration, community and students on a benefit last fall that
raised $175,000 for the family. Colleagues also helped establish a
fund for donations. For information, visit http://www.swensonlee.com, or send
Children of Teri Lee Memorial Fund
c/o Lake Elmo Bank
11465 39th St. N.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042