6 Moms Who Rock
Extraordinary moms who have made selfless, inspiring contributions to their communities, families, and friends
Amanda Pacheco, Orlando, FL
Why she rocks: When neighborhood friend Jennifer Gutierrez suddenly passed away in her sleep in September 2009. Amanda Pacheco was devastated. What made it worse for Amanda, a young mom with a 3-year-old daughter and 15-month-old son, was that Jennifer left behind a 6-week-old girl named Sara. Motivated to help, Amanda began donating her own breast milk to the widowed father for baby Sara. She also rallied other local moms to join the cause. As a result, Sara has been able to drink breast milk for the nearly seven months since her mom died. In honor of Jennifer, Amanda founded Get Pumped! (getpumpedonline.com), a nonprofit organization that helps feed nursing babies in need in central Florida. It has collected more than 4,500 ounces of healthy, screened breast milk to date. "I think a lot of moms would take comfort knowing that Get Pumped! is there for their babies," says Carrie Musalimadugu, a friend and breast-milk contributor. "It's a wonderful service."
In Amanda's words: "One donor mom brought us 800 ounces; she packed it on dry ice and drove it here from North Carolina. Another mom lost her own child and wanted her milk to go to babies who needed it. This tragedy has created so many inspiring stories."
Jamie Bruen, Centreville, Virginia
Why she rocks: The responsibilities that come with a healthy baby are sizable enough. So imagine the day-to-day life of Jamie Bruen. Jamie's 11-month-old son, Liam, was born with Tarui's disease, a glycogen storage ailment with about 100 reported cases worldwide. As a result of this affliction, Liam is unable to move, eat or breathe on his own, and so Jamie is charged with filling those gaps. She cares for Liam around the clock: moving him every two hours to avoid bedsores, regularly cleaning his tracheotomy and responding to him in seconds if his oxygen levels or heart rate drops. (It was even a struggle for her to answer a brief email for this story.) Yet this resilient single mother feels truly blessed to have such a miracle in her life. "There are no known survivors [of Tarui's disease]," says her sister Judy Bruen. "But if the power of love and dedication prevails, Liam will be the first."
In Jamie's words: "I love the quiet times we have together to snuggle. It melts my heart even on the toughest days. Liam has almost lost his battle several times, but responds with twinkling eyes and wide grins. He is a complete joy."