LeAnn Rimes is helping to change one deserving family’s life with the gift of a lifetime: their dream home.
PEOPLE has the exclusive first look of Rimes’ cameo on the third episode of HGTV’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition reboot in which “How Do I Live” singer helps host Jesse Tyler Ferguson put the finishing touches on a fully renovated home for the Holtzclaw family.
“They did send me the whole family’s story that they submitted — I remember just sitting in front of my husband watching this with these big tears rolling down my face, and he was like, ‘What are you watching?’” Rimes, 37, tells PEOPLE of her initial reaction to hearing the Holtzclaw family’s story.
Jeff Holtzclaw, a longtime Covina, California, resident and a beloved teacher for at-risk students, was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in 2017, and the accident resulted in one of his legs being amputated. It became impossible for Jeff to get around the home that he shared with his wife Emily and their three daughters due to narrow doorways and steps that he could no longer navigate with his wheelchair.
“Their life had kind of been turned upside down,” Rimes says. “They have been through a lot, but adapted and are still full of love and full of life. What they give back to the community and to the kids themselves is just remarkable.”
Aided by hundreds of volunteers from their community, the EMHE team got to work creating a new open floor plan and completely renovating the Holtzclaw’s home in order to make it wheelchair accessible.
“Clearly the family has touched their whole community and their outreach has gone incredibly far and wide,” the Grammy winner says of the Holtzclaws’ positive impact on students and the local area. “It seemed like everybody showed up that could to return the favor which was really beautiful. … People from their whole neighborhood got involved and came out to reveal the house to them.”
Before it was time to move that bus for the big reveal, the singer set to work with Darren Keefe on the design team to salvage the doorway height charts from the original home. “It was fun to be able to preserve the family memories,” says Rimes of the personal touch, which saw Keefe carve grooves into the wood where the height marks were and fill them with aluminum.
“You know, it’s hard when you move or you’re renovating your house… to move away or tear down or redo something that’s so important to you and that you can’t really get back. Your kids will never be that height again. It was really beautiful to be able to preserve that piece for them so that they’ll always have it,“ Rimes says.
When it comes to the most meaningful part of appearing on the show, Rimes doesn’t hesitate: “Just to light up someone’s life. Mine’s been very blessed and my life’s been lit up a zillion times over.”
The star adds, “My life’s been nourished and fed in so many ways and to be able to turn around and do that for someone else… especially someone I don’t know … to walk into someone’s life and be a part of lighting their world up a little bit more is always super gratifying.”
The third episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will air Sunday, March 1, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV.