TODAY

TODAY   |  May 10, 2013

Both finalists win ‘Most Deserving Mom’ contest

TODAY’s Kathie Lee and Hoda reveal the two finalists in the search for the “Most Deserving Mom” to win a cruise anywhere in the world; a mother who has devoted herself to caring for her son after he was stricken with bacterial meningitis, and a sister who is giving her sibling the chance to become a mom by becoming the gestational carrier of her baby.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> it's time for our most deserving mom contest. moms do so much for the family. now it's our turn to do something for them.

>> we read about 3,000 essays.

>> we did? we didn't.

>> we personally did not, but somebody did. someone's going on a cruise around the world. it will be amazing.

>> our first mom is 45-year-old kate majenski from connecticut. here with her friend gretchen arnold who nominated her as well as kate 's gorgeous family. let's look at her story.

>> kate lived every mother's nightmare when adam , the youngest of her three children came down with an ear infection that turned out to be something is much worse.

>> we put him to bed and found him unresponsive. that's when we rushed him to the hospital. he had to learn to walk, talk, eat, all over again.

>> adam had been hit with a severe case of bacterial meningitis . kate lived in the hospital for four months.

>> as a mother not to hear your child 's voice for that long is just heartbreaking.

>> it was really very hard on kate , her husband, her children at home who were going to school and trying to have a normal daily life.

>> there were a lot of unknowns. that was very difficult for her to deal with and for us to deal with.

>> suddenly kate 's little boy who lived for soccer was unable to play like a normal child .

>> because of the bacterial meningitis he is permanently blind and has brain damage. he as epilepsy and endocrinology issues. when you find that out, your dreams and hopes for your child go out the window. on the other hand, you're like, he's alive. we have him. we can deal with whatever is thrown our way.

>> kate kept her head up, pouring herself into managing adam 's special needs . his restricted diet and daily doses of medication.

>> she's embraced it and has such drive to make the most out of it for adam and the girls so we have a balance. we can still be a family.

>> kate 's story doesn't end there. she's also working with a foundation to help build a play ground for kids like adam .

>> not only is kate dealing with three busy kids, one with special needs , but she found it in her heart to start a foundation and build a play ground for kids of all abilities.

>> there are other kids out there who have disabilities. adam is not the only one. we are not the only family who has a disabled child . if i can make something good come out of this nightmare that happened to my family and i and have a play ground for kids who will enjoy it, it just would make me feel good.

>> despite the challenges, kate has kept her family thriving.

>> i think i just get up and i do it. any mother would do what i do. because they're your children. you just get up and put your foot -- you just do it.

>> what an amazing lady.

>> i love you guys.

>> so far you're in the lead. [ laughter ] let's meet our next finalist. 31-year-old deeann kern from pennsylvania here with her sister kristen who nominated her. dee ann brought her family. let's look at her story. sisters dee ann and kristen have always shared a special bond. but that bond was taken to a new level when dee ann volunteered to carry kristen 's child .

>> that little bum.

>> my favorite.

>> for the past five years kristen and her husband dave struggled to have a baby.

>> we were able to get pregnant five times but unfortunately lost all five babies. that's where my sister came into the grand scheme of things. she had two children of her own and felt that this was the answer to our prayers. offered to be our gestational carrier .

>> i would just not be able to accept the fact that she couldn't have her own child . that's why i offered to do this for her.

>> a stay at home mom raising two kids under 3, dee ann had her hands full. that didn't stop her from helping her sister.

>> i have never looked at it like a sacrifice. i feel like motherhood is just a once in a lifetime thing. kristin definitely deserves to go through it.

>> dee ann moved her wedding date six months earlier to get a head start on the surrogacy.

>> it was like wedding, honeymoon and get ready, learn everything you need to know about being a gestational carrier .

>> a few months after the embryo transfer dee ann told kristen the good news, she was going to have her baby.

>> i feel this child and i will have the most incredible relationship because, i mean, where he comes from is definitely from true love . you have your blood running through his veins. you're the reason, you know, that his heart beats today.

>> kristen had a party to reveal the baby's gender.

>> can't wait for him to get here. about 118 days to go. yes, i have a countdown.

>> one sister, giving another a chance to be a mom.

>> it is the epitome of unselfishness and that's the large part of the reason why i nominated my sister dee ann because of the way she is with her own two kids. also that she loves it so much that she's sacrificing herself for nine months to ensure that i get to experience the same thing. that's the true meaning of motherhood to me.

>> oh, my god.

>> now it's a tie.

>> this family is crying because of this story.

>> everybody wants everybody to win.

>> anyway, we'll announce a winner in a second. sara will tell us what the winner will receive. sara?

>> we partnered with expedia.com and norwegian cruise lines to give the most deserving mom a seven- day trip to anywhere in the world on the cruise of their choice. get this. they can bring up to three people with them. the retail value is $5,000. back to you girls.

>> so, ladies, when you were nominated, what did you think when you heard about it?

>> i thought it was a joke. i was stunned.

>> you kept her out of the loop?

>> i told her, but we didn't --

>> believe you would be the ones selected?

>> exactly.

>> down to two.

>> you don't think you're special?

>> she doesn't.

>> you're a mother. you just do it.

>> that's what makes you special. how about you? did your sister tell you?

>> no. she didn't.

>> 15 minutes before they called.

>> oh, my god. all right.

>> well, you know choosing a winner is never easy, especially because you're two great families. we are very happy to announce that kate will be cruising in style.

>> but, but, but wait.

>> there is a but.

>> there is a but. so