The Ellen Show gave a Canadian mom and her daughter the surprise of their lives recently, whisking them off on their first vacation and paying off their student loans.
Helen Uyi-Osagie moved from Nigeria to Vancouver 18 years ago, when she was pregnant with daughter Emerald, in order to give her a better life.
Helen and Emerald, who are huge fans of The Ellen Show, were handed their first surprise last week, while waiting to speak to a producer of the show for a viewer survey.
Instead, the two women got put through to host Ellen Degeneres, live on air, while they Skyped from their home.
“Wait – is that actually you?!” Emerald asked Ellen as her mother fell off her chair in shock. “I can’t feel my heart!”
Ellen then proceeded to give them the survey they were expecting, finding out how often they watch the show – every day – and why.
“I watch your show because, when I get home from work… it just gives me hope. Hope. That miracles happen,” Helen told Ellen.
Ellen described Helen as a hardworking single mom, who loves helping others and giving back to her community, but who lives paycheck-to-paycheck, never able to afford a vacation.
“My Mom literally means everything to me,” Emerald told Ellen. “She totally inspires me and makes me want to be a better person completely.”
When asked where they would go on holiday if they could choose anywhere in the world, the pair told Ellen they would like to visit her – and see the set of Friends.
“Well, start packing, because you’re leaving tonight!” said Ellen. Helen promptly fell off her chair again.
‘I just couldn’t believe it’
Helen and Emerald spent the following few days in Los Angeles, visiting Ellen’s star on the Walk of Fame, the Central Perk set of Friends, and joining Ellen on the show.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Helen said, explaining her shock at speaking to Ellen the week before; she’d watched the show since Emerald was in diapers.
As Helen sat tearfully on the show sofa, clutching daughter Emerald’s hand, Ellen read a message she had received from Emerald, telling her about her mom.
“My mother is the strongest and most amazing person. She left her home in Nigeria when she was pregnant with me, so I could have a better life.
“Although we have always struggled, my mother remains full of love and positivity. She is grateful for what we do have, and how far we’ve come.
“She means the world to me, I’m so lucky to have her as a mother.”
‘I love helping people’
While Emerald is going to school to be an elementary school teacher, Helen is a support worker for people who have a mental illness.
She told Ellen she went back to school six years ago, so she could help support people and give her daughter a better life. “I love helping people,” she said.
Ellen then produced a box topped with show hoodies, which she said the women had wanted for Christmas, but couldn’t afford.
However, when the box was opened, Helen and Emerald were in for one last surprise – $15,000 in cash for them to pay off their student loans.
Now that’s how to make a dream come true.