HGTV Revives Family's Dreams
Dream Home giveaway 2005 awarded to Don Cruz of Batavia, Illinois.
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The "For Sale" sign in the yard says it all. Don Cruz is ready to move. And now he has a place to go — the $1 million HGTV Dream Home.
A television crew from HGTV surprised Cruz, a 40-year-old native of this West Chicago suburb, just before dinner at his home on Tuesday night to announce that he is the winner of the 2005 HGTV Dream Home Giveaway. Cruz' name was selected from the record 39.1 million entries in this year's sweepstakes, the network's ninth annual.
"This is a miracle. It's a true blessing," Cruz said, explaining further, "I injured my knees several years ago and have not been able to work. My wife took a job to support us, but money is tight. We live paycheck to paycheck. That's why the house and property are up for sale."
Cruz's winnings include a fully furnished, custom-built home with more than 5,000 square feet of living area and a dockside guest house overlooking Lake Tyler in Texas. In addition, the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway includes a 2005 GMC Envoy Denali, $250,000 from LendingTree.com, one year of AOL Broadband service, and even a HGTV Doggy Dream Home that matches the architecture of the house.
"I saw the HGTV Dream Home on television and told Don, 'This place is awesome. We have to enter,'" Cruz' wife, Shelly, said. "It's as if it was built for us, with what we need in mind, especially because of Don's injury." Shelly was referring to the Jacuzzi and two unique features in the rustic retreat – an elevator and swimming pool – both firsts for an HGTV Dream Home.
"Those could make such a big difference in Don's quality of life. The doctors just told him that he needed to do swim therapy," Shelly said. While Don and Shelly Cruz were overwhelmed with surprise at the news that their names had been selected from almost 40 million entries, their nine-year-old son Donny was not.
"I knew we were going to win. I just knew it," Donny told HGTV's Joan Steffend, host of the HGTV Dream Home 2005 special and the person who broke the good news to the Cruz family. "Mom and I sat at the computer and looked at every room in that house and I knew it was our dream house."
The annual HGTV Dream Home Giveaway has become a popular institution for the network and its website. The 39.1 entries this year sets a new record, up nine percent over the 2004 sweepstakes. One of the most successful consumer promotions in cable TV history, the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway involves sponsorship from several national advertisers including GMC Division, General Motors Corporation, Lumber Liquidators, LendingTree®, Inc., Nestlé Purina PetCare, 3M Company, America Online, Inc., BISSELL® Homecare, Inc., California Closet Company, JELD-WEN, inc., Moen Inc., The Sherwin-Williams Company, and Simplicity Pattern Company, Inc.
"The HGTV Dream Home is the perfect representation of the HGTV brand – giving our viewers, or in this case one lucky viewer, the experience of having the home of his dreams," said Burton Jablin, president of HGTV. "Though only one person wins the home, every HGTV viewer can take away ideas and inspiration from HGTV’s Dream Home 2005 special that can help them turn their own homes into the homes of their dreams."
For Cruz and his family, it means a new start. "Shelly and I had a lot of dreams when we got married 18 years ago. When I got injured, the dreams had to go on hold," Cruz said. "I guess that's why its called a 'dream' home, because it really does have that kind of impact on a life. HGTV has given us back our dreams."
* Winner subject to verification of eligibility.
The HGTV Dream Home 2009 design team visited Grand Central Terminal in New York City to speak with fans.(21 photos)