“Extreme Makeover: Bethel Edition” recently made a home run with one local family when the Bethel College women’s  softball team traded in their mitts and bats for work gloves and paintbrushes — proving that with a little teamwork and effort,  dreams can come true.

Although there wasn’t a Ty Pennington, a bullhorn or a bus, the enthusiasm that Nancy Kabui and her two children, Samantha, 11, and Emmanuel, 7, felt last fall when Bethel’s softball team arrived at their rental property on South Bend’s northwest side matched that of many contestants on TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

“I’m excited,” Nancy Kabui says of the surprise makeover. “I wasn’t expecting this. When [Coach Anna Welsh] first called and said she wanted to help, I never thought it would be a makeover.”

Welsh and her team were introduced to the Kabuis last summer when Samantha Kabui attended Bethel’s softball camp on a free scholarship. When junior physical education major Emily Lamkin realized Samantha didn’t
have a lunch for camp, she immediately came home and told her mother.

Samantha didn’t have a lunch because the Kabuis didn’t have any food, Emily’s mom, Lori Lamkin, explained through tears. “The next weekend we put some stuff in a garage sale, and I planned on giving the money we earned to the [Kabui] family.”

But Lori Lamkin held onto the money for a bit while Emily Lamkin and Welsh took inventory of the Kabui’s home and compiled a list. Within daysof getting word out that the family was in need, the team obtained many of the items, and the effort escalated to a house full of nearly 20 Bethel softball players and volunteers painting, stocking cupboards, arranging furniture, hanging draperies, redecorating bathrooms and more.

The ladies had no problem stepping up to bat for the Kabui family. “The team wanted to do this,” Welsh says. “They are fired up. They worked so hard. I just love it.” And it all began with $100 from a garage sale and a vision.

“I have never done anything this big,” Emily Lamkin says. Some team members wanted to paint, while others wanted to organize, she added. No matter the chore, someone from the team was there to do it, making Christmas come two months early for the Kabuis.

“They went out of their way — they didn’t have to,” Samantha Kabui says. “They’re painting … in my favorite  color green. It’s like we’re moving into a new house.”

And if there’s one thing that the team has taught Samantha Kabui it’s that “when you work together, sometimes more can come from it,” the 11-year-old said with a beaming smile.

“We really did struggle,” Nancy Kabui says. “My food stamps were discontinued. It’s really been a blessing. I’ve never in my life had this much food. It blows my mind.”

The women knocked it out of the park for the Kabuis.  And if the softball team has anything to do with it, the Kabuis will never go hungry again.

“This is an ongoing thing between us and this family,” Emily Lamkin says. “We will always be in their lives.”