Mother's Day came early this week for five very deserving Tampa moms, each of whom was treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers' inaugural "Mother's Day Makeovers" program provided a full day of pampering, a new wardrobe and an evening out with friends and family to five local mothers in honor of the special day that recognizes mothers for the care, support and dedication they show to the people in their lives.
The makeover recipients were chosen from 300 nominations submitted here on Buccaneers.com. In selecting the winners, the team searched for particularly compelling stories of mothers who focused their time and efforts on caring for others.
Ten-year-old Elizabeth Shuman nominated her mother, Heidi, for the makeover.
"When one of your kids is stopping to think about you like that, it makes you feel so great," said the elder Shuman, one of the Makeover winners.
Shuman, whose husband is currently serving in Iraq, cares for their three children by herself while taking a full course load at the University of South Florida. The aspiring teacher also holds down a full-time job at a local supermarket to help cover her family's daily expenses.
On Thursday, Shuman's costs were all covered by the Buccaneers, who invited her along with Kala Hamilton, Wilma Weems, Rose Wilson and Mary Ann Yglesia to One Buccaneer Place, where the day began with breakfast prepared by Executive Chef Mike Beadles. Following the morning meal, the group departed in a limousine for a local retail store, where each mother was paired with a personal shopper - in this case, a current or former Bucs cheerleader - to commence the shopping spree.
"It's definitely exciting and fun," said Buccaneers cheerleader Tanya Rossi in mid-spree. "I love shopping period, and then shopping for other people is just as fabulous to me. It definitely is a really good cause and I'm really enjoying shopping for the moms. I'm very close to my mother so I can't wait to get back and really appreciate her. It really makes you appreciate all the moms."
Rossi was paired with Hamilton, a special education teacher and mother of three. Hamilton has dedicated her life to assisting children with developmental disorders, including her 18-month-old daughter, who was born with a medical condition that causes tumors to grow throughout her body. Despite this challenging time in her family's life, she has continued to put others before herself and focus her efforts on caring for her family and students.
"She is a wonderful, warm, fun-loving and energetic person," said Rossi. "Her colleagues actually submitted [her nomination] to the Buccaneers for her to get the makeover. That's how she is - she's such an easygoing, caring, warm person. She's been very energetic and she's really great and it's definitely making a big difference for all of us."
Hamilton felt special to be recognized.
"The girls were awesome and it was just so fun," said Hamilton. "There's a lot of moms out there... these are all amazing moms that I've met today."
Following the shopping spree, the women gathered back in the limousine and headed to a nearby salon, where they were provided lunch by Publix before having their hair and makeup done.
For some of the mothers, this portion of the day was not only enjoyable, but educational.
"I typically don't use a lot of makeup, or even know how to, so the makeup session was really great in teaching me how to utilize it," said Weems, a mother of four and a grandparent of 12. "So that [part of the day] stands out predominantly in my mind."
Added Shuman: "Sometimes as a mom, you don't get to do the little things, but [the makeover] was even beyond that - that was like super, ultra pampering. It felt nice to go and get my hair done. It was especially nice to get my makeup done, because that's something that you don't normally have a lot of time to do but that just took it to a whole other level and made me feel like a movie star - we got the works. It was a really great day."
The day concluded with dinner back at One Buccaneer Place. The made-over mothers were escorted into the dining hall - this time filled with their families and friends - by Buccaneers General Counsel Manny Alvare, Pro Personnel Assistant Victor Green, Head Coach Raheem Morris, Pro Scout Shelton Quarles and Director of Player Development Eric Vance. As each mother revealed her new look, the room filled with cheers and applause from the approving guests.
"I feel pretty," said Weems. "When you feel pretty, then you act more confident in yourself and you feel good, and I really do."
Weems' newfound friend Shuman agreed.
"That sounds simple, but it's one of those things that when you're a mom and you're so concerned about doing it for the kids and getting things done, that you usually come last," said Shuman. "To stop and feel pretty is phenomenal."
Perhaps the biggest transformation occurred with Wilson, whose makeover day might never have happened if not for the persistence of a Buccaneers staff member relaying the exciting news. At first try, Wilson hung up on the caller thinking nothing of it.
"I didn't believe it, I thought it was somebody just trying to sell something," Wilson explained. "And then my daughter came about three or four days later and mentioned it and I said, 'Did you have anything to do with this?' She said no, but when I got the call again that said 'Congratulations!' I figured out it must be real. And sure enough it was. So here we are."
Mother's Day is a particularly special date for Wilson. Along with caring for her four children, Wilson has attained the name "Mamma Rose" from the community for her devotion to foster care. In her 18 years as a foster parent, Wilson has cared for over 50 children, many of whom came to her as infants with complex medical issues and eventually aged out of her home into adulthood.
After countless days of caring for others, Wilson was given a much-deserved day all for herself.
"Wonderful, fantastic, I can't believe it," she said. "I've pinched myself several times... it's real."