Mormon Mom Surprised on ‘Ellen,’ Pays it Forward


Mary Banford, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received the surprise of a lifetime when Ellen Degeneres gave her a brand new car. Banford recently paid it forward by surprising her aunt with a flash mob dance party.

Banford, who received a brand new Ford Escape and a date night with her husband who is serving in the National Guard, told,

We were so overwhelmed with love and gratitude that we immediately started thinking ‘How can we pay it FORDward?’

Banford thought of her Aunt Elaine, who has been experiencing excruciating back problems and will go in for her second back surgery this month. Elaine’s husband and children were instantly on board with a plan to surprise their wife and mom.

“My mom is amazing! She is having a difficult time feeling like a good mom when she can hardly walk because the pain has gotten so bad and her right leg is going numb from nerve damage,” Elaine’s daughter said. “I am proud of her for having such a positive attitude throughout the trials she is experiencing.”

Banford surprised Elaine on Monday, May 18, 2015 with a larger than life flash mob dance in front of her house. The American Fork Utah High School drum line and the Lone Peak Utah High School drill and cheer teams provided the music and entertainment.

“We brought my Aunt Elaine outside and had her lay down on a couch in her front yard, with her husband and her mother next to her,” Banford explained. “As they sat outside wondering what was going to happen next the drum line came around the corner playing an incredible cadence with the color guard and dance teams following behind, and family members carrying a large banner that said ‘We love Elaine!'”

Elaine, who had been in a great deal of pain that day, was shocked and surprised at the flash mob and support from the community and kept asking: “Are you kidding? Is this for me?” The most emotional moment of the night was when Elaine’s children each held signs with words describing their mother. Even Elaine’s daughter who is serving a LDS mission in Florida sent a picture of herself holding a sign that said “You are my best friend.” Banford told,

The Lord worked many miracles last night.

Hours before the surprise was scheduled to happen there was intense rain and hail which was threatening Banford to cancel the event. “We knelt as a family a few hours before the event and asked the Lord to clear the skies so we could give Elaine this gift,” Banford said. “After the prayer we all knew that God loved Elaine and that He would clear the skies for her. And sure enough it rained and hailed all around her neighborhood but it never came to her street.”

Bridget is a newsroom writer at She graduated in April 2015 from Brigham Young University in communications with an emphasis of public relations. She served a Spanish speaking LDS mission in McAllen, Texas. She is a skilled pianist and an expert baker of chocolate chip cookies.