By Jill Fox
Almost two years after the death of her husband by a mass shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Debbi Hixon received a huge surprise by a well-known talk show host.
Debbi, who lives in Hollywood with her son, Corey, 24, and has another son, Tom, 27, in California, was married to Chris Hixon, the former athletic director at the school. Chris was murdered on February 14, 2018, when he attempted to save students from an active shooter on campus.
Now, the Hixons are being featured on a Military Makeover show with talk show host, military advocate, and veteran, Montel Williams.
In its third season, Military Makeover with Montel provides designers, contractors, landscapers and other home improvement professionals to transform the homes and lives of military families.
Since Chris was a veteran with the US Navy, Debbi was eligible for the Military Makeover show.
“I have mixed emotions about it because Chris deserves this, and I wish he were here to share it with us, but I know he had a hand in this for sure,” said Debbi, who said the two used to enter sweepstakes for home improvements or to win dream homes on a daily basis.
Debbi, who was in the process of searching for a contractor to repair her kitchen, was overjoyed when she was notified in July that she had been chosen.
A teacher for over 30 years, Debbi is currently the magnet coordinator at South Broward High School’s Marine Science Maritime Program and is running for the Broward School Board in the August 2020 race.
While at work over the summer, Montel Williams visited her school with a camera crew in tow, surprising her with the news that she had been selected for the television show. Not recognizing Montel at first, she thought he was a parent of one of her students, but when she realized what was happening, she started crying.
And the surprises kept coming. Last weekend, Debbi was whisked away to San Diego for a shopping spree, all part of her Military Makeover experience. While in California for the day, she was treated to stores like Kate Spade, Kendra Scott, Johnny Was, and Fabletics. She was asked to choose a gown for an upcoming event, where she would be honored, and was even surprised by her older son, Thomas — arranged by the show.
“It’s been a crazy weekend; I’m still not sure which time zone I’m in,” she said.
The inaugural Montel Williams Military Makeover Golf Classic and Gala, held November 17 and 18 at Parkland Golf and Country Club, benefited Parkland Cares and Thank you First Responder, in addition to the Military Makeover families. At the event, BrandStar Cares, the nonprofit component of the television production company, honored the Hixon family and presented them with a portrait of Chris.
So far, the show has filmed the before segments, but the remodeling portion will take place from December 3 through December 13. Although the results of the makeover will be a surprise, they informed Debbi it would cover every corner of the house, including the backyard.
“I can’t even put into words how excited I am. I still feel like it’s a dream,” she said.
The Hixons will be the featured Military Makeover Family on the episode airing on February 14, 2020, on Lifetime.
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked on the public relations side as well as the television side of marketing for NBC Universal. A true Floridian, Fox grew up in Ormond Beach and now resides in Parkland with her husband, Brian and their two children, Madden, 10 and Randi, 7.
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