Birmingham’s ‘Awesome Mary’ hopes to spread positive message about disabilities on ‘Ellen’

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Mary White. Photo courtesy of Jana White.

Have you heard of “The Awesome Mary Show”?

Mary White, an 11th grade student at Hoover High, was born with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus – a condition that has caused her to undergo 36 neurosurgeries.

It’s been a tough life for Mary, but you wouldn’t realize she has been through so much because she is so full of positivity and overflows with so much personality.

In an effort to create a more positive world for those with disabilities, Mary acts as an advocate for those with disabilities through web videos and speaking engagements. Her mission – to spread a message of respect and equal treatment for those with disabilities, and to do so in a positive and fun way.

Birmingham, Mary White, The Awesome Mary Show, Children's Hospital, Ellen DeGeneres, The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Mary White with Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Jeffrey Blount. Photo courtesy of Jana White.
The Awesome Mary Show

What is “The Awesome Mary Show”? “The Awesome Mary Show” is a collection of Youtube videos created by Mary that focus on informing viewers about disabilities like her own. And, just as the title of Mary’s show suggests, she is pretty awesome!

Check out one Mary’s videos below.

How did Mary decide to start making Youtube videos?

“I made them on my phone. I make all different videos. I even made one today,” said Mary. “When I showed them to my track coach, Kelly Bonner, she said ‘you should make videos with me’.”

Kelly Bonner works with the National Center for Physical Activity and Disabilities (NCPHAD), which is housed at the Lakeshore Foundation.

Magic Moments

During Mary’s last surgery, she ended up having to stay in the hospital for a three-month recovery due to an infection.

“It was during this lengthy stay in the hospital that people started telling me that Mary should request a wish from Magic Moments,” said Jana White, Mary’s mom. “Then, after Mary started making Youtube videos, people telling me that Mary should be on ‘Ellen’.”

As in, “The Ellen Degeneres Show”. You know the one!

“I always thought of Magic Moments as a terminal thing. I didn’t want to ask for a wish because I felt others were in a more dire situation,” said Jana. “But after talking about it with Mary, we decided that the wish Mary would ask Magic Moments for would be to be a guest on ‘Ellen’.”

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Mary White after Magic Moment’s revealed her wish. Photo courtesy of Jana White.

Though Magic Moments was unable to pull enough strings to grant this specific wish, they did have something else to give Mary.

The day of the Magic Moments wish reveal, Jana wanted it to be a true surprise for Mary. She had already informed Mary that her wish of being on “Ellen” wasn’t granted, something that Mary understood, knowing that it was a long-shot. But what Jana strategically failed to mention to Mary was that Magic Moments did still have a surprise reveal for her.

“The day the wish was revealed, I told her I was taking her to do a PSA on texting, which she does often for Children’s [Hospital],” said Jana. “We were really going to have her wish revealed.”

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Mary White at Children’s Hospital after Magic Moments revealed her wish. Photo courtesy of Jana White.
So what did Magic Moments have in store for Mary?

A trip to California to be part of the guest audience of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”!

“When they told her she was going to the ‘Ellen’ show, she started crying,” said Jana. “Everyone in the room started crying. It was the sweetest moment.”

What’s Next for Mary?

While Mary currently only has tickets to be in the guest audience at “The Ellen Degeneres Show”, she is still hoping that she will manage to land a guest spot on the show.

“I really want to be on ‘Ellen’ because she dances on the show and I really want to dance. I think we can have a dance off,” said Mary. “And I want to teach everyone in the world about disabilities to get the word out.”

October is disability employment awareness month – the perfect time for Mary to be on the show and discuss why employers should hire someone with disabilities like hers.

Mary already has plenty of great thoughts on the issue. You can check them out in her video, “Mary’s Top 10: Hiring People with a Disability”.

Want to help Awesome Mary land a guest spot on ‘Ellen’? Here’s what you can do to help make it happen:
  • Share, share share! Share this article and Awesome Mary’s videos – on social media, via email, or in whatever way you like best.
  • Contact Ellen (and her producers) via the Send to Ellen tab on the show’s website. Here’s the link.
Patience Itson
Patience Itson
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