WESLEY CHAPEL — She identifies her children by the feel of their hair on her fingertips. She once recognized her father was having a heart attack by the sound of his sigh. And she helps her children with their homework by having them read the directions aloud.
Lisa Couture is blind. Despite her disability, friends and family say she has a witty sense of humor and an uplifting spirit, and is an amazing mother who deserves to be recognized.
That wish came true Wednesday when Couture, a mother of three, was named one of 15 semi-finalists nationwide in an "America's Favorite Mom" contest.
Thousands of mothers were nominated in the online contest, and 15 were selected, three in each of five categories. The moms in each category will be featured daily on NBC's Today show next week, when America will get to vote online at www.nbc.com to see who will continue to the final round.
A different category will be highlighted each day: military moms, working moms, single moms, "nonmom" moms, and "chairman of everything" moms.
Couture, who was nominated by her husband, Ron, will be featured in the "chairman of everything mom" category May 9.
"I am extremely excited," Couture said Wednesday afternoon. "I feel very blessed to have people in my life who think I deserve it."
Couture said she will fly to New York at the end of the week to appear live on Today where she will talk about her husband's nomination entry.
"She is the main cook, cleaner and caretaker for our family," Ron Couture wrote in his essay. "She cannot drive, and yet she gets more accomplished than I could possibly imagine."
Couture, 35, lost all sight in her right eye and virtually all in her left from a childhood fever. She uses strong glasses and multiple magnifiers to help her children with their homework. She cares for her parents and relies on friends to drive her and her children to play dates.
Despite her condition, she went to night school for six years to obtain an MBA, beginning in traditional classes and eventually finishing through directed study.
"Anyone who comes into contact with Lisa is a better person for it," Ron Couture wrote. "I know I am."
The five mothers with the greatest percentage of votes will be on a prime-time show hosted by Donny and Marie Osmond.
The winner will get $250,000, a family vacation package to St. Lucia, a Teleflora America's Favorite Mom diamond encrusted pendant, a year's worth of Teleflora flower arrangements, all-new General Electric kitchen and laundry appliances and an all-expense-paid trip to New York City, including a makeover and shopping spree.
"Mothers are the nucleus of life," said Marie Osmond, a mother of eight. "We really do need to honor these women."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.