“Oh, boy, she was a person full of life,” Mario Lazo said. “She always looked at the positive of a negative situation and always had the biggest smile on her face.”
The two met nearly 20 years ago and married in 2006.
In that time, the two started their home renovation company and often staged homes for realtors in Atlanta. Their work caught the eye of real estate agent and Grant Park resident Jamie Simpson, who hired Jennifer Lazo to work at the Simpson Real Estate Group, staging homes for him, Simpson’s wife Keeli said.
The new job also allowed Jennifer to reconnect with college friend Keeli Simpson. The two co-founded Join The Flock, a non-profit that supports families affected by cancer by gifting mortgage payments and offering emotional support.
Jennifer Lazo created the business last year, as she was battling cancer. Keeli Simpson and the Lazo family are keeping the business going now.
In its first year, the organization paid monthly mortgage payments for six families and donated clothes and house goods to seven other families, Keeli Simpson said. The organization is hoping to raise $75,000 to help families in need.
Keeli decided she wanted to do something nice for the Lazo family and wrote to “The Ellen Show” asking for help.
Simpson and Jennifer were “only reconnected for two years,” Simpson said, “but she made such an impact on my life and it shows the kind of person she was.”
Simpson received a response from The Ellen Show in September, but had no idea she and the Lazo family would be featured on Ellen’s holiday special.
“It was honestly a little bit of an out-of-body experience,” Simpson said.
Ellen surprised Simpson at her home recently with actress Melissa McCarthy, who then drove the two of them to the Lazo home to give gifts to the family. They were also surprised with a trip to Aspen.
During their appearance Wednesday on “Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways,” singer Taylor Swift gifted the girls with tickets to her “Lover Fest West” music festival and backstage passes.
“I heard about everything you’ve been through, and I just want to send you my love,” Swift said in a video message.
The family also opened a giant box containing a paper with Mario Lazo’s name and the cost of his mortgage, $300,000.
The comedian tore up the paper and told him plainly: “That’s paid for.”
Watch part of the surprise here:
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In other news:
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence
Talk 'Bad Boys' Return.
The actors star in
'Bad Boys for Life,' which
hits theaters January 17.
While on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,' they discussed reuniting for the franchise's third installment.
It’s been really special. We shot some pieces in Atlanta, and just people seeing us together on the street — there’s like this really magical thing with 'Bad Boys.', Will Smith, on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show'.
Lawrence also revealed that his sister recommended Smith to star along