HOLIDAY — Monica Miracle stood with three other women and their families beneath the bright studio lights Friday morning as Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan prepared to announce the $100,000 grand prize winner on their show's "Unstoppable Moms'' contest.
"It was nerve-wracking,'' the 27-year-old Holiday woman said later, "but we were cracking up.''
That's because her 18-month-old son, Jayce, meandered to center stage and grabbed a microphone from Ripa, then Strahan. The studio audience for Live! With Kelly and Michael laughed as the rambunctious redhead strolled alone with a huge smile.
"Even during the breaks,'' his mom said, "Kelly and Michael were holding Jayce and loving on him. He's a superstar, isn't he?''
Liz Norden of Stoneham, Mass., won the grand prize. She raised five children and beat cancer but then last year endured another tragedy as her two grown sons, J.P. and Paul, each lost a leg in the Boston Marathon bombings. She told Ripa that she will use some of the money to start a nonprofit group called "A Leg for Life."
The other finalists in the contest were Jaspen Boothe of Haymarket, Va., who started a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., to assist homeless women service veterans, and Lauren Perkins of Pearland, Texas, who is raising sextuplets.
Miracle was nominated by her husband, Jeremy. She gave up a nursing job to care for her mother-in-law after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When Mary Ann Miracle died in January, Monica and Jeremy took custody of the four children she had adopted from foster care.
The three runners-up received $10,000 from the syndicated show and Children's Motrin, along with some impressive parting gifts. The Miracle family will set sail soon on an all-expenses-paid Caribbean cruise.
Viewers from across America voted for their favorites, who were featured during the week. Miracle's segment was interrupted in some markets by breaking news — the explosion of a building in New York on Wednesday.
"We are grateful for everything,'' Monica said Friday morning as she prepared to fly with the family back to Tampa International Airport. "All the women were so inspiring. I feel so honored to have been included with them.''