12/09/2008 at 12:00 PM EST
Four years after Judy and Larry Vardon, a deaf couple with a blind, autistic son, captured the hearts of millions on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the couple fears losing their remodeled house.
The Vardons, who were featured in a Nov. 6, 2004, episode of the ABC series that set a rating record for the show, say that their mortgage payment has doubled since the show aired and they are facing mounting medical bills due to their son’s autism, according to the Associated Press.
"I'm afraid I'm going to lose my house now," Judy Vardon of Michigan, said. "This house really belongs to [our son]."
The Extreme Makeover team renovated the Vardon's 980-square foot house near Detroit to make is safer for their 16-year-old son, Lance. After the makeover, the couple refinanced their mortgage, and since then their monthly payments have nearly doubled to $2,300.
They also have debts of more than $20,000 due to Lance’s therapy, and are worried that Larry may lose his job at a Chrysler plant amid the economic crisis. "We didn't have bad spending habits," Judy Vardon said. "My husband got laid off for a time, and insurance wouldn't cover Lance's autism therapy and some other things like his vision and special dental work."
Judy says she remains grateful to the Extreme Makeover team for their help and that the family is working with a non-profit group to help negotiate a lower mortgage rate. "We're a close family that loves each other," she said. "I feel that I was given this life to show others that you can face these challenges."