DETROIT – It's a tradition everyone in the Local 4 newsroom looks forward to on the day after Thanksgiving, as business editor Rod Meloni turns in his reporter notepad for his Rod the Builder apron.
In years past, he has tried his hand at carving ice sculptures, a cookie bake-off, decorating a tree, professional gift wrapping, a chef chop challenge and putting up Christmas lights against a professional company. That last one has been a fan favorite and that's why this year we are bringing it back with a twist.
Local 4 approached the same company, Landscape Services Inc., to see if they would be interested in doing another Rod the Builder challenge.
“We welcome it,” said Bret Steiner, landscape designer and estimator for Landscape Services. “It’s been eight years. Maybe he has improved his decorating skills. We’re definitely up for the challenge.”
“I’ve been doing Christmas lights for my kids for, what, 30 years. I’m adept reasonably at the process, I can do this,” Meloni said about his outdoor Christmas light decorating skills
Landscape Services also suggested we decorate the home of a family who has had a difficult year.
Payton Shock, 10, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in July. She has undergone surgery to remove the tumor from her spine and is in the midst of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The treatments require her to be in the hospital every two weeks.
“It’s just been a whirlwind,” said Heather Shock, Payton’s mom. "Your world gets turned upside down … but they’re both so brave. and we just ... it’s busy. It’s always hospitals and clinic appointments and who is going to take Blake to school that day, and our family has been great. Their support has just been out of this world.”
Shock said an outdoor Christmas lights challenge on their front lawn is a welcomed distraction for both her children -- Payton and her older brother Blake.
“Oh, it made me smile so I can only imagine what it will do for the kids,” Shock said. “The community and the support. and everyone has just rallied around us and have been great, and when I heard that I was just like, I mean, it took my mind off her diagnoses for a minute. So, if that can happen for my two kids, just for a minute, I think it’s beautiful. It’s a blessing and I appreciate it.”
Landscape Services and Meloni will be teaming up to surprise the Shock children with the outdoor lighting display this Friday. It will still be a competition, with Meloni decorating a neighbor's home, making the display even bigger and brighter for the family.
"They're a part of the community here, so Landscape Services definitely likes helping out our community," Steiner said. "All we're going to do is help brighten up their house with Christmas lights hopefully brighten up their world in this dark period of their life."
Meloni is thrilled to be able to use the Rod the Builder challenge to give back to the community.
“I doesn’t matter who I’m up against. It matters who we’re for. It’s Payton and Blake. These kids are going through a tough time. There is nothing worse than childhood cancer I don’t think. So to be able to help these kids and make their Christmas cheerful, that’s pretty special,” Meloni said.
You can watch the Rod the Builder challenge Friday on Local 4 News at Noon, 4, 5 and 6 and on ClickOnDetroit.com