Erin Kelly has reinvigorated her dream of getting on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
It was an early Spring morning in 2010. My Facebook status read, “Officially campaigning to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
This came a few days after a middle-aged churchgoer stopped me and asked, “What do you want to do with your life?”
I’d heard this question before, but something in her voice seemed disarming—the way my Grandmother used to ask me, “What’s that mind of yours up to now?”
The words this time were on the lips of a faithful reader of “The View from Here,” my column in The Altoona Mirror.
The woman leaned down so she was at my level, rested her elbow on the arm of my wheelchair, and waited for my answer as if she had all the time in the world.
My mind instinctively went to the first thing on my bucket list.
“Well, I want to get more of my work published.”
I was so used to answering this question as a way of proving myself that I didn’t realize how good it felt to let my guard down and just answer it. Then, “…and go see Ellen.”
This woman didn’t know me—didn’t know that I dream out loud.
When I heard, “Good luck with that, honey,” I snapped back into reality, caught a glimpse of her quiet smile as she walked away. I can still hear my Grandmother’s voice in the distance—her believe that I had more strength than any “normal” person.
The Facebook status caught on. Emails were exchanged and just like that a community-wide campaign began to try to get me on Ellen.
I’ve been a fan of “the dancing queen” since high school. She’s proven time and time again that strength doesn’t always have to be physical. She’s set a new standard—not only for women—but also for humanity that speaks volumes in this interview with Oprah. Moreover, since the day my Mom and I turned on the T.V. for our “daily dose of Vitamin E” to find Ellen was doing the show while lying in a hospital bed—that was it for me.
At that moment, I knew what kind of woman I wanted to mold myself into—and I made a promise to myself that I would get on her show. It was like electricity running through my body, reminiscent of how I felt in 2004, when I walked to the podium at my high school graduation to accept my diploma in front of a crowd of teachers, parents, and families.
We soon found ourselves in the middle of a media whirlwind. Our page generated over 500 followers within the first week of setting it up. As the fan base started to build, so did the offers to help us out. It was the end of May by now, and another installment of my column was due for June. At that moment, the light bulb in my head suddenly burst.
The headline for “The View from Here” that month read: “Facebook may be the path to a dream…” A thousand supporters later, The Mirror ran a headline story soon after, chronicling my crazy idea.
Summer was in full swing. The hot August air started to set in. Now with 1400+ supporters but no real, plausible way to reach out to Ellen, I began to think the campaign was losing steam. I casually logged onto my Facebook account to find a lengthy, well-written message from a local radio DJ.
As I read, I found out that she had been keeping up with the articles in the paper. I got down to the second or third paragraph and read, “…would like to have a banner or scroll made to bring to the Altoona Curve (our hometown baseball team) game on our annual WALY Day… signed KC O’Day.”
In addition, I was invited to throw out the first pitch at the game that night. By the time I ended the call, Mom’s voice was shaking and the look in her eyes told me that my grandfather, who passed away six years prior to this, had dealings with someone upstairs.
My grandparents ate, slept, and breathed baseball, especially my grandfather. They would’ve been telling the world to watch as their granddaughter took the field.
Hundreds of people came from all corners of Altoona to show their support—signing their names in red, blue, and green on a table length banner designed to catch Ellen’s eye.
I found myself in the same stadium my grandparents watched construction workers build from the ground up—and took the same field my grandfather dreamed of walking upon one day.
We were still rallying for signatures hours later, under the dim lights of the stadium. A few stranglers walked by, marveling at the mosaic of ink we created throughout the day. We wrapped up after the eighth inning was announced and packed the banner into the tube KC brought it in. It was ready to ship.
Not even a month later my Mom rushed into my room with an opened envelope and letter. She skipped the pleasantries and looked up from reading.
“It says these materials can’t be read,” she whispered through a flood of tears. “I’m calling KC.”
So she did—and KC found the banner after it was sent to the wrong address. She repacked and resent it to a new address. We have yet to see the banner or hear from Ellen’s staff. The itch to once again breathe life into this campaign has resurfaced.
My vision of sitting in my idol’s audience is still crystal clear and I’d love the opportunity to personally thank her for being the role model that she is. She helped me see that you don’t have to be “big” to do big things in this world.