Every day at 4 p.m. Theresa Hofschulte, 24, a freshman in Occupational Therapy, and her mom, Eileen Segatti, can be found watching the Ellen show. “We always talk about how much we’d love to see the show,” Holfschulte said.
Four years ago, Segatti’s mom was sick with cancer and the three women watched Ellen together. “Ellen was there for us,” Segatti said. “I am truly grateful to Ellen for bringing joy to us at such a difficult time.”
Ellen brings a little positivity with her final message at the end of every show being, “Be kind to one another.”
Last year, Hofschulte wrote to Ellen about her mom through Ellen’s website’s “Nominate a Deserving Person in Need.”
“Ellen does so many amazing things for deserving people, and I thought my mom deserved to be recognized. My mom always puts others before herself and gives everything she can. I entered an essay about her on the Ellen website and asked to be able to get tickets to be in the audience for the show because they are impossible to get,” Hofschulte said.
Countless viewers write to Ellen, so Hofschulte didn’t get her hopes too high. “I hadn’t heard anything back from them after I wrote that essay, but I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of it,” Hofschulte said.
Then, on February 18, 2016, Jeannie Klisiewicz, a prominent feature of the Ellen show, rung the doorbell of Theresa’s childhood home in Wauwatosa with a camera crew behind her. “I was in complete shock,” said Hofschulte. “I fell to the floor.”
Klisiewicz told Hofschulte that Ellen had received her letter and that Ellen wanted to help Hofschulte show her appreciation for her mom, and presented her with two VIP tickets to see Ellen’s show.
Hofschulte’s letter to Ellen:
“Dear Ellen, my mom and I look forward to watching your show every day, it’s something we bond over and every time we watch she says it’d be my dream to go and see her show. My mom was a single mom for many years and did everything she could to take care of her three kids. She’s the most amazing person I know and I want to give back to her for everything she’s done for us. Love, Theresa.”
Hofschulte and Klisiewicz decided to go to the Segatti’s Kohl’s store where she was working to surprise her. They yelled throughout the store for Segatti who immediately recognized Klisiewicz.
“I didn’t even notice Thersa or Ellen on the camera,” Seagate said. “When I saw Theresa I knew something was going on and then they pointed out Ellen on the camera.”
Segatti’s reaction to seeing Klisiewicz and the camera crew was completely genuine. “She had no idea about any of it,” Hofschulte said.
Klisiewicz explained to Segatti that her daughter wrote to Ellen about her. Ellen watched the whole surprise via satellite and talked to Segatti. She wanted to give back to Segatti on behalf of Hofschulte for everything she’s done. Segatti was presented with a $5,000 gift card for Kohl’s and surprised her with a brand new, 2016 white Chevrolet Traverse.
“I am just in awe of Ellen’s kindness and generosity,” Segatti said.
The experience is still a shock to Hofschulte and Segatti.“I couldn’t think anything other than these kinds of things never happen to people like us,” Hofschulte said.
Segatti said she doesn’t know if she’s truly deserving of the experience, but that she’s very grateful and humbled by her daughter’s thoughtfulness and kindness.
Since the episode aired on February 19, Hofschulte and Segatti’s clip has over 15,365 views and shared across social media. Hofschulte’s Facebook page was swarmed with posts, tags and shares of the clip.
“The amount of people that reached out when they saw the video has been astonishing. People I haven’t talked to for years wrote on my Facebook wall, texted me, called me, to tell me how happy they were for us,” Hofschulte said.
Hofschulte and Segatti have not been to the Ellen show yet, but said they will before the end of the season in May. They will be flown to Burbank, CA where the show is taped and they hope to meet Ellen. Segatti and Hofschulte are inspired by Ellen’s generosity and giving spirit.
“If more of us could be like (Ellen) the world would be a better place,” Segatti said.