A "dumbfounded" Edna Escher-Gaston, 61, of Swarthmore, was tearfully happy to learn this week that she'd won the "Best Mom on Wheels" contest run by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
The grandmother of six was one of 10 finalists but got about 25 percent of the almost 2,000 votes tallied online by the foundation.
Apparently, the campaign run by daughter Karen Dechaux of West Chester paid off.
"I read all the other entries of the moms as well. Just to be in the top 10 among them was so humbling," Escher-Gaston told the foundation, set up by the late Superman star who became a quadriplegic in a horse jumping accident and his devoted wife.
Dechaux was only 8, growing up in Swarthmore, when a terrible accident on I-95 left her newly divorced mother paralyzed from the waist down.
But her mom got busy instead of getting depressed, said Dechaux, a graduate of Cardinal O'Hara High.
Dechaux's online testimonial for the contest enumerated: "She cofounded Barrier Awareness of Delaware County and was one of the initial signers of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Washington, DC. She relearned to drive with hand controls, to swim and to ride horses. An avid swimmer, she even swam laps for a national cancer charity event with our local swim club. As a member of Kid's on the Block, she visited preschools and elementary schools educating children about people with disabilities. She has also been a guest speaker at several Universities."
At one lecture, Edna met the man who became her husband in 1999, when she also became a stepmother to his two daughters.
"People think just because you have a spinal cord injury means you are not capable of being a mother," Escher-Gaston told the foundation.
"Karen used to tell me when she was very young, 'You're still my mom,' " Escher-Gaston said.
The main prize was a $500 gift certificate for merchandise from Tilt-a-Rack, which sells an assortment of racks, ramps and carriers, as well as clothing and pet strollers.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.