6 Moms Who Rock
Extraordinary moms who have made selfless, inspiring contributions to their communities, families, and friends
Melissa Kramer, St. Augustine, Florida
Why she rocks: Have you ever seen a movie that made you want to change the course of your life? Melissa Kramer has. When she was in her 20s, Melissa saw a documentary about orphans in China that impacted her so profoundly, she made helping children in need her life's mission. And that's exactly what she's done. In addition to being the associate director of the medical team for Love Without Boundaries, an organization that provides live-saving surgeries to orphaned children in China, Melissa has adopted three abandoned Chinese children: Tyler, 4, Brooke, 2, and 19-month-old Aiden, who was brought to an orphanage simply because he's deaf. Even as Melissa struggles with gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach) and undergoes quarterly medical procedures in order to keep sustenance down, her passion for children -- at home and on the other side of the globe -- never wavers. "Despite her chronic condition, Melissa always maintains a positive attitude and focuses on giving her family the wonderful life they deserve," says good friend Rebekah Scott.
In Melissa's words: "I knew that I couldn't watch that documentary, feel badly for the children, and then pick right back up with my life. I knew that I would have to act on these feelings and that is just what we have done."
Heidi Milhous, Uniontown, Ohio
Why she rocks: The winter of 2008 was one of joy and pain for Heidi Milhous. Her oldest daughter Hannah was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after her third birthday. The news came as Heidi was 13 weeks pregnant with Sydney, now 10 months old. Heidi lived in the hospital with Hannah during the entire pregnancy. The chemotherapy appeared to be working until December 2009, when Hannah's leukemia relapsed nine days after returning from her Make-A-Wish Foundation trip to Disney World. After enduring more chemotherapy, Hannah is now in remission but requires a stem cell transplant -- and baby Sydney is a perfect match: thanks to Heidi's foresight, Hannah will be receiving Sydney's banked umbilical cord blood. Apparently, wishes don't only come true at Disney World. "Heidi has been an amazing rock during Hannah's fight with leukemia," says friend Laura Franchetti. "It's a heart-wrenching situation, but Heidi handles every moment with an amazing amount of strength and courage."
In Heidi's words: "My world as a mom was turned completely upside down in a split second when I heard the doctor say, 'Your daughter has leukemia.' I have learned to find and provide happiness in the most dire of circumstances and never take a moment with my children for granted."