Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brandon teen becomes YouTube star with video to help laid-off dad

“When we first saw it, we almost cried,” said Mark Gullett of the YouTube video by his son, Ben, which drew hundreds of e-mails.


“When we first saw it, we almost cried,” said Mark Gullett of the YouTube video by his son, Ben, which drew hundreds of e-mails.

BRANDON — Hi! My name is Ben. I am 14. I Live in Tampa.

The teen is a sort of celebrity now. Cameras from the Today show invaded his Brandon home Tuesday. When he circles the house chanting "Op-rah, Op-rah," teasing about the possibilities, his parents hand him a mop.

Ben Gullett, affectionate, creative and electronically aged, didn't start with stars in his eyes. He just wanted to help his dad find a job.

He had a camcorder. He had a long-running laptop relationship with MySpace and YouTube. So, he wrote short, stilted sentences on poster boards. He stood for the camera with the signs, a somber Enya song acting as soundtrack.


This is a story… about Mark.

Mark Gullett, 46, spent the last nine years as a marketing executive with the Tampa Bay Lightning. His wife, Lisa, works in printing sales. Ben, their only child, is an eighth-grader at Nativity Catholic School.

Mark got me… a set of drums. I drum every day. Mark has a Stanley, a Stanley Cup Ring! Mark Likes to make fires. We make Smores.

The family moved here when Ben was born, leaving family up north. Here, they only have each other. They eat dinner together every night and talk around the fire on weekends. Sundays, his dad puts on jazz and Enya songs Ben calls "sappy."

Ben reads tbt*/Tampa Bay Times every morning at the kitchen table. He eats Cheerios and announces that he's lowering his cholesterol.

At 7:10 a.m., Mark drives Ben to school. For the 15-minute trip, they talk about the day ahead, about interesting stuff Ben saw in the paper.

Stuff like the economy.

For the past month, he told Ben how more and more Americans were losing jobs and struggling to find new ones. The information was a slow melt. Mark and Lisa didn't want to scare their son.

"It was just like baby steps in each conversation," said Ben. "It was just kind of a snowball down the hill."

Finally, they had to tell him — Mark's own job could be in trouble.

Mark works a lot. Well… He used to. "Re-structuring."

Ben asked if they could make a video to advertise Mark's skills to employers in case he did get laid off. Ben had filmed himself drumming before. He dabbled in arty photography, shooting flowers and sideways Coke cans. He knew what to do.

He was inspired by the INXS video for Mediate, where the lead singer flips cards strewn with messages. He thought it made sense to use one of his dad's sappy songs.

Mark helped Ben create the video. It distracted his son from the fear.

9 years with the Lightning. Marketing V.P. Now he needs me. and YOU! to help find a job. OK? he's smart, creative, hard-working but most importantly he is my Dad.

"When we first saw it, we almost cried," said Mark.

I Love you Dad.

Mark was officially laid off Thursday. He piled boxes with nine years of work in the living room. The Gulletts coped the best they could. The video was a bright spot. They sent it to friends and posted it on YouTube.

Within hours, they heard kind words from people. Within days, the video had an impressive 16,000 hits. Hundreds of e-mails poured in. Mark received several job leads and requests for interviews. He doesn't expect to be unemployed for too long.

PS… I hope this helps!

Tuesday, Mark drove Ben to school and they talked. NBC was due in their home later that day, but Mark wanted Ben to focus on school. Mark dropped Ben off.

In front of all his teenage friends, without fear or shame, he kissed his dad on the cheek.

Reach Stephanie Hayes at or (727) 893-8857.

Brandon teen becomes YouTube star with video to help laid-off dad 03/17/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 19, 2009 12:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hurricane Maria's winds hit 175 mph as it aims at Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands


    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually incommunicado. …

    A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  2. Hillsborough School Board approves 2017-18 budget


    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday approved a budget of $2.83 billion for the 2017-18 school year.

    Photo illustration. []
  3. All Eyes photo gallery: 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 79, collapses buildings in Mexico


    A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 79 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped. The quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country's south, and it …

    Rescuers work on a collapsed building on Amsterdam Avenue in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, Sept. 19, 2017. Dozens have been reported killed across the country, including 42 in the state of Morelos, close to the epicenter of the quake, and at least 20 buildings in Mexico City have collapsed. (Adriana Zehbrauskas/The New York Times) XNYT169
  4. Rays video tribute to ex-manager Joe Maddon upon return with Cubs


    Here is the Rays video tribute to former manager Joe Maddon, who returned to the Trop for the first time on Tuesday with his Cubs team:

  5. After Irma disruption, Miami eager to face Toledo


    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Like thousands of other evacuees, Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz headed north to escape Hurricane Irma with his family, two suitcases and the anxiety of not knowing what would happen to everything he left behind.

    Miami coach Mark Richt watches during a victory over B-CU in the Sept. 2 opener. The Hurricanes haven’t played since.