RUTHERFORD, N.J. — "Talia! "Talia!" A crowd of neighbors chanted as Talia DeGennaro strutted around on the walkway outside of her Rutherford home, on Friday afternoon.
The fourth-grader, affectionately known as "The Mayor of Rutherford," has special needs, has been afraid to go down her basement steps for years.
That's been changed for good, thanks to NBC's "George to the Rescue" -- which for two weeks has been renovating the DeGennaro's basement and kitchen.
"She's already run up and down those stairs too many times in the last hour," show host George Oliphant said to the crowd outside of the family's Wingra Avenue home, the family of five by his side.
The family's oldest child, Juliana, 15, wrote into "George to the Rescue" months ago, explaining that Talia was terrified of the stairs to their unfinished basement.
A few weeks ago, Lazio and Sherri DeGennaro, along with kids Juliana, Nick and Talia, moved into a hotel so the work could begin.
They knew about renovations to the basement but a fully-redone kitchen was a complete surprise to them.
"The reason we came was for the basement," Oliphant told Daily Voice. "It was cluttered, cold and damp. We wanted to give them a more livable space."
The basement now features an air-hockey table, new furniture, cabinets, fresh carpeting, new heating and ventilation systems and a new office for dad, Lazio.
The kitchen floor has been retiled, and all of the old appliances have been removed to make room for the new refrigerator, sink, table, and a black-and-white family photo on the back wall.
Next-door neighbors Bob and Donna Kacperowski said the show could not have picked a more-deserving family: "They are the nicest people around and the best neighbors we could have hoped for."
The DeGennaro's episode of "George To The Rescue" is scheduled to air in Spring 2018 on NBC.
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