Wounded Warrior Gets Big Surprise From the Ellen DeGeneres Show

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver talks with the Fairfax couple who was surprised by a home makeover on Ellen.

    Not much stops Mark Little, an Iraq war veteran who lost both his legs serving his country.

    He co-founded an non-profit called Warrior 360, which helps and empowers wounded service members. He likes snowboarding. He's been captain of an ice hockey team of wounded vets.

    But the fact remains: It's not easy to get up in the night for a glass of water when you've removed your prosthetic legs.

    Ellen Surprise

    [DC] Ellen Surprise
    Ellen has a big surprise for a deserving military family.

    So when the Ellen DeGeneres Show, HGTV and hundreds of Northern Virginia volunteers came together for a surprise renovation of his fixer-upper house in Fairfax, they installed a fridge in the bedside table on Mark's side of the bed.

    It was just one of the touches that stunned Little and his wife as they toured their new home for the first time.

    Wounded Warrior Gets Help From The Ellen Show

    [DC] Wounded Warrior Gets Help From The Ellen Show
    Iraq war veteran Mark Little and his wife, Alicia, got the surprise of a lifetime: The Ellen DeGeneres Show, HGTV and hundreds of Northern Virginia volunteers came together for a surprise rehab of their fixer-upper house.

    "We walked in and it felt like where we belong," Mark said. "They really captured our essence. And we have a space now that's comfortable, functional and amazing for us."

    Mark lost his legs in September 2007 to an IED explosion. He married his wife, Alicia, after he returned, and the two bought a home. But it needed expensive and difficult repairs.

    Enter The Ellen Show and cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri, who specialize in surprise home renovations for deserving people on their "Cousins Undercover" show on HGTV.

    The cousins vaulted the home's ceilings and redecorated. But it was the custom changes that touched the Littles most deeply, including installing a home spa to help Mark recover from his athletic endeavors.

    "He said the pain he's in is incredible. To give him somewhere to soak and decompress was at the top of our list," said Anthony Carrino.

    The cousins also installed extra air conditioning, because Mark's body temperature is elevated -- a side effect of having less skin surface to keep him cool.

    Mark called those changes "tiny things that are going to make the world of difference for us.”

    Mark and Alicia saw their renovated home for the first time on the Ellen episode shown Friday on NBC4. In an interview with News4 afterward, the couple said they were stunned.

    "This is ..." Mark began, "...amazing." Alicia chimed in: "...unbelievable."

    "We were surprised last week that this was going to happen," Mark added. "And never in our wildest dreams could we imagine what we were going to walk into today."

    The cousins said choosing the Littles for a project was a "no brainer."

    "What Mark has given to his country and his community, everything that he has done - when we saw his story, we said we had to do this for him," John Colaneri said.

    Hundreds of friends and supporters of the couple helped the cousins with the project. The cousins called the community support "incredible,” and “unreal."

    "We are talking from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m at night they were side by side with us, hanging out, saying whatever you want done we will do," Colaneri said.

    The surprises didn't stop at the house. At the unveiling, Mark saw members of his platoon whom he hadn't seen in five years. And the Ellen Show and Shutterfly presented the couple with a $20,000 check to help with expenses.

    A stunned Alicia blinked back tears.

    "It's surreal," Alicia told News4. "It's such an amazing gift that words can't even explain how grateful we are. It's just overwhelming. But at the same time we are so blessed to know that people have gone above and beyond for us."