Ellen DeGeneres turns 60: Watch her most emotional fan surprises

Heather Gardner
Video Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

Happy Birthday, Ellen DeGeneres! The beloved TV host is celebrating her 60th birthday on Friday, Jan. 26, but for fans of The Ellen Show, every day is like a birthday, as the TV host often showers her guests with gifts.

Cue the waterworks! For Ellen’s milestone birthday, we’re reliving a few of the TV host’s biggest life-changing and emotional fan surprises — no unwrapping necessary!

1. Ellen surprises Lori at home.


Lori, aka “Ellen’s biggest fan,” wrote to Ellen explaining that she’d been in and out of the hospital for several months. Still, she had never missed an episode of Ellen, not one time in 13 years.

Moved by her dedication, Ellen sent a camera crew to Lori’s house and surprised her family with a message and a gift — but there was a catch. Lori could choose either a suitcase filled with $10,000 in cash or VIP tickets to Ellen. Being such a huge fan, Lori chose the tickets, but Ellen gave her family the much-needed money anyway to help cover her medical bills. Lori, her husband, and their two sons were thrilled.

2. Ellen makes Dianna’s food truck dream come true.


Dianna first visited Ellen in 2006, right after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina. Moved by her happy attitude, Ellen gave Dianna a car, which was “life-changing” for the grandmother.

Ten years later, Ellen invited Dianna back for an update on her life. Since their first meeting, Dianna took control of her health by running marathons and changing her eating habits. The 65-year-old even went back to school for a degree in public health. Her dream was to own a food truck to provide healthy meals to her New Orleans community. Ellen made Dianna’s dream come true in one of the show’s most emotional reveals ever.

3. Ellen helps Sarah, a deaf woman, hear.


Sarah was born with a condition in which her ears never formed inner hairs, causing her to be deaf. The mother of two underwent an expensive procedure that enabled her to hear for the very first time — but only in one ear. The expensive $30,000 surgery was paid for by Sarah’s mother-in-law, who cashed in her retirement fund to help her daughter-in-law.

Moved by Sarah’s story, Ellen invited Sarah, her husband, and her mother-in-law to her show, wanting to help. Working with Envoy Medical Corporation, Ellen arranged for Sarah’s other ear to be fixed for free. She also gifted Sarah’s mother-in-law the $30,000 she originally spent for the first procedure.

4. Ellen gives military wife a surprise reunion.


When Ellen called Jen’s name from her studio audience, the military mother of two thought she was going to win a Christmas gift. She had no idea that Ellen had a prerecorded message from her husband, Michael, who was serving in Kuwait over the holidays.

Jen cried through the recorded message, unaware her husband was really back in the U.S. Ellen not only reunited Jen and Michael, but also their two daughters were waiting backstage. Michael had reached out to Ellen, orchestrating the emotional reunion with the help of the TV host.

5. Ellen goes all out for Lisa.


Lisa was just a regular audience member in 2011 when she caught Ellen’s eye. Her overly enthusiastic response to being at the show prompted Ellen to invite Lisa back, and she gifted the grandmother a brand-new, much-needed car.

The following year, Ellen brought Lisa to the show again for another surprise: a $1,000 gift certificate to J.C. Penney and every single gift in Ellen’s famous “12 Days of Giveaways.” Lisa was overjoyed to share the electronics and money with her son, who was struggling through college at the time.

A few months later, Ellen gave Lisa the surprise of a lifetime: a brand-new, custom-built house in her hometown of Houston. Lisa was stunned by the reveal, but months later, her reaction to seeing her finished home led to one of Ellen’s most memorable surprises to date.

Watch: Justin Timberlake serenades Ellen for her birthday:

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