Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Timberlake showered a Dayton-area family with holiday joy and a life-changing gift as part of a special that aired Thursday, Dec. 12.
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Troy residents Stan and Dee Dee Bender and their children, Tag, Ireland and Madyson, were featured on the emotional finale of NBC's "Ellen's Greatest Night of Giveaways."
“Tonight’s guests are going to inspire us all to be more kind and thoughtful through the entire year,” DeGeneres says at the top of the episode.
Stan Bender was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease — on Dec. 1, 2016. The average life expectancy is two to five years.
Timberlake joined DeGeneres and the family on stage before they were presented a gift of $400,000 to help ease their stress over financial burdens that have come with ALS, including medical expenses on top of college expenses and debts as well as planning for the future, including the children’s weddings.
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“I am not used to walking onto a show crying, but wow,” Timberlake tells Stan Bender during the episode. “It is just an honor to be here with you. What an inspiration.”
During the episode, Bender says the diagnosis hit his family like a ton of bricks.
“The hardest part of this is it is harder on Dee Dee and the kids than it is on me,” he says on the episode.
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Dee Dee Bender, his wife of 28 years, says it is like a part of her husband is lost every day.
“His hugs aren’t as tight anymore, but he can still hug,” she says in the episode.
ALS causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles.
The Benders have raised money for awareness of the disease.
In the episode, a tearful Tag Bender calls his father the strongest man he has ever known.
“There is some stuff you cannot control in life, but you can always control your attitude and that’s what he’s done,” he says.
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The three-night series has included Michelle Obama, Jennifer Aniston, Robert Downey Jr., Michael B. Jordan, Jason Momoa, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Teigen as well as Steph and Ayesha Curry.
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