When a dozen cameras swirled around the Grommesh family on Sunday, they quickly became celebrities. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” ambushed 11-year-old Peighton Grommesh and her family while they were on the ice at a local arena. Peighton’s eyes grew wide and her jaw dropped as Heritage Homes, friends and family surround the family wearing blue shirts that said the name of the hit ABC show. Peighton twirled around the circle once and then fell into hugs with her family members, one at a time.
Peighton has a pancreatic enzyme deficiency known as Axenfeld-Reiger’s syndrome. She takes vitamins and medication to help balance out the enzyme deficiency, that allows her body to better absorb nutrients.
Peighty, as many of her aunts call her, may be small but she’s assertive and will stand her ground. She has a strong spirit but shows it in a way much different from her outgoing younger brother, Garrett.
“Sometimes it takes that person to hang back – that person in the background who leads in her own quiet, very assertive way,” says Alene Roeglin, Peighton’s aunt on her mother’s side.
Peighton’s aunts and uncles believe she will take after her parents and be a passionate volunteer throughout her life. She is in touch with her emotions, much like her mother and has a giving and sensitive heart. When she enters a room, she scans it and approaches those who look like they may be left out of what’s going on.
“She’s the first one to include people,” says Lisa Erickson, Peighton’s aunt on her dad’s side.
Though Peighton plays on her school’s 7th grade volleyball team, she also participates in all of the activities that younger brother Garrett does with Hope Inc. Family members consider her one of the main volunteers for the organization, but say she doesn’t seek attention for what she does. She’s always in the background, helping where needed.
“They are typical siblings, but they are also the first ones to protect each other,” Erickson says.
Peighton has been back and forth to Minneapolis to the hospital for appointments to adjust medications and checkups; she also accompanies Garrett when he has appointments, is dealing with infections or has scheduled surgeries. Peighton and her family are on a path to continue searching for the treatments that will keep her healthy.
“They don’t let anything stop them if they want to do something,” says Jeri-Dawn Bernu, Peighton’s aunt on her mother’s side.
While her original family home has been moved of its site, crews have built a new home in just a matter of days. When Peighton and her family return from their first-ever family vacation, they will come back to a different life.
“It’s just very nice that they could almost have a reward for all they’ve been doing over the years,” says Levi Erickson, Peighton’s cousin.
Levi’s statement is met by an encouraging high-five from his mom.
“That’s my son!” shouts Lisa Erickson.
The smiles and laughs from the extended Grommesh family are contagious and their energy is evident. They look forward to seeing the completed project and telling Bill, Adair, Peighton and Garrett all about the crazy week in Moorhead that changed all of their lives forever.