Mark Orsillo’s family describes him as an hysterically funny 34-year-old man with Down syndrome. Until recently, he was not a public figure. That changed after his family evacuated their California home amid raging wildfires and on very short notice. When they returned, they found that everything had been destroyed in the fire. The house, which Mark’s father built, was burned to the ground along with Mark’s apartment that was attached to the house. The family home they had shared for close to 30 years was gone, along with all their possessions except what they managed to take with them when evacuating. Mark was most upset about losing his prized possession: a massive movie collection.
Word spread of the fire’s devastation, and Mark’s sister, Danielle Devine, posted a video on Facebook asking people to donate unwanted DVDs. Danielle explained to People Magazine what Mark’s collection of 300 movies meant to him: “DVDs for Mark are everything. He watches them, talks about them, collects them and organizes them, they’re his hobby.” Strangers across the country responded to Danielle’s request, and movies began to arrive. Soon, Mark’s collection had reached more than 400 DVDs, and donations continued to arrive.
Mark’s family posted a video of his reaction to receiving the new DVDs, and his heartwarming enthusiasm soon went viral. Mark says he is now in “movie heaven” and is thrilled with the new collection. As the video continued to spread, Mark was featured on the news and across the internet.
Danielle explained to People why she is so grateful for the generosity shown to her brother. She said, “Mark is just the most loving person you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t have any bad days, he forgives everyone very easily and never gets offended. It’s almost like the love is being returned to him a million times over, and he deserves it more than anybody.”
Mark responded to Danielle’s comment joking, “Yes I do!”
Because the Orsillo family received so many generous donations through the national attention, they reached out to other victims of the fire to share resources with those in need. Mark has also personally used his celebrity status to raise awareness about the ongoing needs of fire victims. Last week, he collected donations from 300 people to pass on to victims of the Wall Fire. As the Orsillos work to rebuild their home, they expressed gratitude for the generosity that restored Mark’s prized collection and encouraged people to share that same generosity with the other victims of the devastating fire.
The family has also set up a YouTube channel where they will share videos of Mark reviewing movies and sharing his thoughts on Life. The devastation left in the wake of the fire was a great tragedy. However, we can all be grateful that through the misfortune, Mark gained a national audience and a platform to share his love of Life. To follow Mark’s story, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook.