Johnson family thanks volunteers for helping build new home

Food, balloons and a festive atmosphere filled the Marcellus Fire Department Saturday as the Johnson family thanked the hundreds of volunteers who helped rebuild the family's home.

"It's amazing, we're blessed," said Dave Johnson, a retired Syracuse firefighter.

It was his fellow firefighters who helped spearhead the rebuilding effort after the family lost its shot at appearing on a national television show.

Starting in mid-April and continuing around the clock for three weeks, volunteers gutted the family's home in Tully, completely remodeling it as part of the Johnson Family Home Project.

Monday, family members got their first glimpse.

Saturday, volunteers were honored for their hard work.

"The feeling the family had when they saw their house for the first time and when they walked through their house for the first time...that's what our reward was," said Jeff Livingstone, a volunteer.

Dave and Diana Johnson, who have raised three biological children, adopted 14 others and fostered another 12, say they're so grateful for all the volunteers and new friends they've met along this journey.

They plan on using it as a teaching moment.