After two recent whirlwind appearances on Ellen DeGeneres’ show, a local teacher is paying it forward.
Laurie McIntosh, a Lacombe resident and Grade 2 teacher at Father Lacombe Catholic School, has chosen to give the prizes she received at the show to the community, in true Ellen fashion.
McIntosh is inspired daily by Ellen and her basic decree: be kind to one another. McIntosh uses Ellen in her classroom as a teaching tool and was beyond blown away when she received tickets to attend a taping of the show two weeks ago.
“I’ve written to her for years on and off,” said McIntosh. “When I’m having a bad day, I’ve always found writing to her was therapeutic. I would write to her about people in our community, people that were affecting me and ask more than anything, if she could do something for these people.”
McIntosh attended the show with her mom, sister and husband two weeks ago. During a commercial break, she was caught passionately singing Ice Ice Baby and received a nod and encouragement from Ellen.
“I was like, there’s my Ellen moment,” explained McIntosh.
But then, 30 seconds later, McIntosh found herself randomly selected from the audience to play a game live on stage with Ellen.
McIntosh and Ellen were the Heads Up dream team and McIntosh won a trip to Las Vegas. Afterwards, backstage she told producers about how she has written to Ellen hundreds of times and Ellen even noted that she would like to see her return as a super fan.
After returning back to Lacombe, McIntosh received a call a few days later from the producers, who after reading all of her letters, were inviting her to return to see another taping. McIntosh and her husband again packed their bags and flew down to Los Angeles.
During the second taping last week, the entire audience received tickets to Ellen’s renowned 12 Days of Giveaways, including McIntosh and her husband. But then, at the end of the show, there was another surprise, Ellen invited McIntosh on stage and gave her a giveaway of a lifetime.
“I get called down and I’m a mess,” said McIntosh. “I can’t believe it’s happening. We talked about how I incorporate her into my classroom and how at home, we do pay it forward Wednesdays.”
Ellen wanted to pay it forward to McIntosh and gave her a 2015 Ford Flex and all the prizes from the 12 Days of Giveaways shows.
McIntosh said that while she was on maternity leave, she watched Ellen each day and while the 12 Days of Giveaways shows were on, she along with her family, made a list of all the people they wanted to give each prize to.
Ellen had a copy of that list, which contained names of families and individuals in the Lacombe community.
“We are going to be using that list as a guide,” explained McIntosh on how she and her family are going to distribute the many prizes they’ve received.
McIntosh arrived home the next day with many giftcards and vouchers and gave away the first prize this past Friday morning.
McIntosh and her family will also receive their new Flex from the local dealership Lacombe Ford, which is another unique community tie-in to the pay it forward initiative.
McIntosh said the whole experience seems surreal and will take a long time to settle in.
“The best part isn’t even that we have all of this stuff,” she explained. “The best part is how people are telling us how happy they are for us. And then on top of that we get to give them something we would never be able to give them and say thank you for being there for us.”
Even though the experience of the show is over, McIntosh is sure the story is going to continue on and affect many lives in the community.
She said the pay it forward concept is not a program, or something she subscribes to, but just a way of life.
“It’s about doing what you can in your own community, with your own resources,” she said. “If you choose to focus on the really amazing things that are happening around you, it changes your outlook. It gives you a different perspective on people and on life.
“That gratitude you have, for all the little awesome things that are happening, makes a big difference.”