In early March, Lake Mary Life conducted an online contest in search of the World’s Greatest Mom. We asked our Facebook followers to tell us in 100 words or less why their nominee deserved to win. We received dozens of beautiful nominations and found it impossible to pick a single winner – so we picked two!
In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 13, we’ve compiled the nominations for World’s Greatest Mom to celebrate our winners and the many wonderful and fiercely-loved local moms in our community.
WINNER: Donna Marques, Lake Mary
Donna has always been a wonderful mom to her beautiful children, Emma and Anthony, but Donna faced a parent’s most difficult challenge when she learned her daughter Emma had a devastating brain cancer called DIPG, the deadliest form of childhood brain cancer. Despite the nightmare diagnosis, Donna continued to fight for Emma and travel with her to get treatment and make sure that her days were filled with joy. After losing her precious daughter, Donna has shown tremendous strength in supporting her son Anthony and keeping Emma’s memory alive. Despite her pain, she uses her voice to fight for other kids facing DIPG.
Nominated by Jenny Mosier
Donna currently serves on the board of two foundations: The All In to Win Foundation supports children with life-threatening illnesses and childhood cancer, and Books That Heal helps children suffering from chronic illnesses create their own children’s books and hosts book-signing ceremonies for the young authors. Donna is also involved in the Children’s Brain Tumor Project, a research program aimed solely at rare and inoperable brain tumors that strike children. In the aftermath of her daughter Emma’s passing, Donna and her son Anthony, now 11, both received support at New Hope for Kids in Maitland, which helps children and families grieving the death of a loved one and grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in Central Florida.
WINNER: Liza Perla, Longwood
My mom Liza Perla is The World’s Greatest Mom because of the difference she is making in our community! When I was 18 years old, I was a passenger in a car accident that left me paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors and therapists told me I would never walk again, but my mom never believed that. She quit her job to stay with me in the hospital and research other recovery options. Two years after my spinal cord injury, my mom opened a fully accessible recovery center/gym called NextStep Orlando Paralysis Recovery Center in Longwood, where people living with paralysis can work one-on-one with specialists towards their goal of walking again!
Nominated by Amanda Perla
Stephanie Ball, Lake Mary
Stephanie Ball is the world’s greatest mom! She’s a loving, dedicated mother of three and a superb wife. She is positive and never mutters a negative or idle word. Stephanie is kind, good natured, and consciously chooses to live life in a righteous way. She is one-of-a-kind, and I truly admire her.
Nominated by Megan Nothnagel
Kristin Hendricks, Lake Mary
My wife Kristin shows me daily how selfless and determined she is to be the best she can be. Being a parent is hard. Being a parent to a child with extra needs is extra hard. We have three beautiful daughters, and Kristin’s love for each of them is outstanding. She constantly uses her mother’s intuition to make difficult decisions and has put her personal goals in life aside to be the best mom possible!
Nominated by Chad Hendricks
Peggy Stickney, Sanford
This beautiful mom raised her three kids to know kindness, charity, and empathy. She took us to zoos, plays, libraries, parks, and museums. She always worked full-time and went to school to earn her doctorate in education. She was our Girl Scout leader and took us to soccer practice and dance class. Today, as adult children, she still supports us. Mom volunteers where I work and shops where my brother works. We’d do anything for her.
Nominated by Chris Chouinard
Madeline Sinanis, Lake Mary
My mom, Maddie Janet, has always been my role model. She is hardworking and has shown me that to achieve things you have to work hard and never give up. She also has a big heart, and she’s very thoughtful about everything. She goes out of her way for family and friends. She forgives over and over. She deserves the world, I someday hope I can give her what she’s given me growing up.
Nominated by Ashley Sinanis
Patti Hoffman, Sanford
Patti is a leader in her home as she deals with chronic illnesses in her own personal life and her family. She also gives back to the community by being a Seminole County Special Olympics cheerleading coach. She loves her family and the athletes. She is amazing, and as a parent, I am blessed to have my daughter around her. We absolutely love her and her family very much!
Nominated by Angel Smith
Anji Patel, Longwood
As a single parent, my mom Anji worked incredibly hard during my childhood to ensure I had everything I needed. Now, she continues to work full-time and still manages to volunteer in our community and be a constant presence in my kids’ lives. She is my role model and has taught me how to embrace the blessings life offers, even when they are hard to see. She is the most selfless person I know and demonstrates that every day when she puts her family and friends’ interests and needs ahead of her own.
Nominated by Shivon Patel
Debbie Cason, Sanford
Debbie is the most amazing woman I have ever known. My siblings and I are all adopted, but you cannot tell because the bond between us is strong. She is my role model, my best friend, my counselor, my shoulder to cry on. She is the best cook, too. My mom is not just a mom to me, but a mom to most at the school she has worked at for over 25 years. She is a peacemaker and has the biggest heart I know. I love you Mom to the moon and back again!
Nominated by Megan Cason Shuck
Amie DiNardo-Faraji, Longwood
Amie is just an amazing example of a true friend, great mother, and role model. We met when our first kids were first born, and we both just clicked. She is so down to Earth and real. I was really nervous when she was pregnant with her quadruplets. I was pregnant with my number two, and I was a little sad that I would never see her again because she would be so busy. Well, she had her babies, and I see her more often now! She is truly my mom-spiration, and I’m so lucky and grateful to call her a friend.
Nominated by Lisa Rosen
Amy Condiff-van Tilborgh, Lake Mary
Amy Condiff-van Tilborgh is the perfect example of a mother who is able to balance business and family in her life. She approaches each day with a desire to better understand her peers and enhance their lives. As a mom, she has applied this similarly, always being there for the big ordinary moments, while manufacturing extraordinary experiences such as traveling. Above all, when things get tough, my mom continues to push through because she knows that many depend on her for guidance.
Nominated by Allison van Tilborgh
Aida Rosario, Sanford
Aida Rosario is the best mom ever. She is one in a million. A real warrior. A survivor and the most loving and caring person I know.
Nominated by Veddy Diaz
Nina Cruz Melendez, Lake Mary
Nina is such a good mama. You can see it in her kids, who are so respectful and well behaved. The love she has for her family is so evident in everything she does, and the love her family has for her is just as big. She is a strong woman of faith and has a huge servant’s heart. She will drop whatever she’s doing to help you, pray for you or with you, or just be there. I am honored to call her my friend… more like family.
Nominated by Luci Gilliland
Nancy Douglas Crawford, Lake Mary
Nancy is an incredible mother and grandmother. She has made it her mission to help all children in Seminole County. She is the founding director of Kids House of Seminole and spent 13 years building Seminole County’s children’s advocacy center with a team of devoted advocates. Nancy has spent decades making our community a better place.
Nominated by Dana Nichols, former assistant at Kids House of Seminole
Rosinda Carvalho, Lake Mary
My mother has taught me so much throughout my life. She has a huge servant’s heart that she demonstrates every day in helping her family. She is my dad’s full-time caregiver and also helps babysit the great-grandbabies whenever needed. Although we sometimes don’t see eye-to-eye, I know that she loves me and has taught me how to be a strong woman, a faithful wife, a loving mother, and an awesome grandmother. I know that no matter the situation, she has my back, and her love is never-ending.
Nominated by Vivian Carlson
Christi White Lanphier, Sanford
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My daughter Christi should be a contender. She has the patience of a saint. Raising two rambunctious boys and working full-time, she also balances a job and school and homework while maintaining her sanity.
Nominated by Beth Dills White