Seven years ago, I stumbled upon something that would forever change my life in ways I never thought possible. I was sitting at home, flipping through the Sirius music channels on my DISH satellite TV package when I came across this crazy Australian guy making fun of the Lucky Charms cereal mascot with the most hilariously-bad Irish accent I’d ever heard. I laughed harder than I ever had in my life and from that point on, I was hooked. Every weekday from that point on, I would listen to Ellis for all four hours of his show, hanging on his every word. It became my favorite part of the day: sitting down with the boys and shooting the shit while laughing our asses off. As the years went on, Ellis continued to be an inspirational force in my life, pushing me to always better myself and strive to be the best. He and the show became a major part of my life and helped define who I was. But it wasn’t until Twitter came along, that the greatest gift Ellis has ever given me came to be: EllisFam. It started off as nothing more than fans talking about what was happening on the show, but it would grow to become a life-altering aspect of all of our lives. Slowly, we all started to get to know each other and become friends, no longer limiting our conversations to the show. The more we got to know each other, the more we realized how much we are all alike and how we’ve been through the same shit in life. This connection was born that seemed stronger than anything ever before experienced, even though we’d never met in person. It was a truly wild and unexplainable experience how this all came to be; a bunch radio show fans, spread across North America, becoming this tight-knit community that was filled with love and support. The power of EllisFam didn’t become clear to me until a very dark period in my life. I was a freshman in college and I was struggling with the fact that all of my so-called friends from high school completely stopped being so when they moved away for college. To make matters worse, I had just had my heart broken by someone who I thought I could trust and I was left in shambles. I was deeply depressed and couldn’t shake the dark clouds that seemed to constantly hang over my head. It got to the point that I started to have suicidal thoughts and became very self-abusive. It all built up until one day I had a complete and total meltdown. I began ranting on Twitter, spilling all of my emotions into tweets that came fast and furious. I had lost it. I was going over the edge and was about to end it all. But then something happened. I suddenly started getting all these tweets from EllisFam expressing extreme concern for me and asking if everything was OK and if they could help in any way. They acted as a therapist for me as I blurted out all my life’s troubles, giving me positive reinforcement and a shoulder to cry on. Out of all the people that came to my aid, two people went above and beyond in consoling me: Jess and Steve (AKA @ladystrangler and @bwstrangler). The amount of care and compassion these two showed towards me was unreal. I was blown away by how two people who I’d never met in person and had only known through conversations on the internet could be so willing and able to help me like they did. This act of kindness sparked what would become the best friendship I’ve ever had. These two mean more to me than anyone ever has and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be here today without them. They’re my best friends and I love them. From that point on, my bonds with other members of EllisFam began to strengthen and the “Fam” in EllisFam began to take on more meaning. These people became my friends, REAL friends who don’t abandon you at the drop of a hat. No matter what, I always knew they had my back.
Even though I’d been a hardcore listener since the early days of the show, I had never been able to make it out to an Ellismania due to my relatively young age and lack of money to fly to Vegas. That all changed this year. I was finally able to make it out to Vegas for what was sure to be the greatest weekend of my life with the people that meant so much to me. At one point, however, that dream was in jeopardy; I needed a roommate to afford the room at the Hard Rock and I was unable to find one on my own. Luckily for me, and in yet another showing of Ellisfam love and support, Tim (AKA @wolfman812) came to my rescue and hooked me up with other Fam who wanted to split a room, Nate, Sara, and Victor (AKA @DraXsiS_Rocker @thewoodswoman @Saveit4thewar). My dream was saved and Ellismania was a reality. These people didn’t have to help me out and take me in, but they did and it meant a lot. The wait for EM was brutal, but honestly went by faster than I would have ever imagined. Before I knew it, it was October 10th and I was at the airport waiting for my flight to Vegas. Upon landing, none other than my two best friends, Jess and Steve, were there waiting for me so we could take a shuttle to the Hard Rock together. Even though we’d never met in person, we instantly acted as though this was our thousandth time seeing each other. The connection was immense. After a short trip in a cramped shuttle van, we arrived at the Hard Rock, walked up to the Circle Bar and began the biggest hug-fest I’d ever seen. Everyone that I knew from Twitter immediately hugged me with everything they had. I’d never experienced this much affection in my life and it was awesome. When Sean (AKA @cantskateanymre) saw me, the first thing out of his mouth was, “Do you want some water?” He knew I didn’t drink and made sure I was being taken care of. When that happened, I knew that I truly was among family. We all hung out like it was one, big family reunion and that’s exactly what it was. At last, I was able to be among the people that meant so much to me and that had saved my life. This is what EllisFam is all about: people from all across the US and Canada coming together to form one, big happy and yes, dysfunctional family. The weekend was the greatest time I’d ever had and I wish it didn’t have to end. Every kiss on the cheek from Jason and Kellie (@AZ_RedDragon @azkellie), laugh shared with Alex (@shit_toboggan), loving hug from Tim (Wolfie), every chance to say “Hed Ragons” with Nate, Victor, and Gregg (@Fngr_Xpressions), and the countless other moments shared with my Fam will be something that I’ll never forget and cherish for the rest of my life. The goodbyes were filled with tears, hugs, and promises to text each other once we made it back to our respective homes safely. It was an experience I’ll never forget and can’t wait to do all over again. This is the greatest gift Ellis has ever given any of us, a family to call our own that has done nothing but provide positivity and love in our lives. EllisFam is truly something special and one of a kind. I dare anyone to find a closer group of people because they can’t. EllisFam truly is “Thicker than Blood”. Red Dragons, motherfuckers.
Written by Cody McCraw (@Cody_McCraw92)