A Brookfield mother was nationally recognized this year and will be enjoying plenty of fun both in the comfort of her own home and thousands of miles away as a result.
When Paul Luther heard that Vizio was going to be organizing a national contest for Mother's Day, he knew he had to enter his own mom as a contestant.
"I actually heard about it on her birthday, April 16," Luther said. "It wasn't anything that I had to think about, I just started writing."
A week later, Paul was notified his mother had been chosen by Vizio as one of 12 finalists in the contest. The finalists were then posted online along with the written submissions Paul and others composed for them. Family, friends and viewers could then vote for a winner until April 30. As such, Paul organized his family and friends on social media to be a strong voting presence for his mother.
"I think it was really the big thing getting into the (top) 12," Carol Luther said. "After that, I think it was just that (Paul) had everyone voting."
As a result of the contest, Carol won a 60-inch television, a 54-inch sound bar, a $500 Wal-Mart gift card, a $250 Vudu gift card and a trip to Los Angeles to tour the studios of Dreamworks.
Despite Carol's humility, her story was still chosen objectively, rather than by voters, for its place among the finalists. That story includes raising six children and helping to raise seven grandchildren. Carol Luther is also a breast cancer survivor and remains extremely involved in volunteer work through her church and through a network of food pantries.
Paul credits his mother with making he and his siblings into the people they are today and used their upbringings as the primary inspiration for his initial submission to the contest.
"The way we were brought up, the way we were raised and taught to respect others, she's always been an inspiration," Paul said. "The volunteering, they taught us to volunteer. We all volunteer now, too. For what she's gone through in her life, she is such a deserving person."
Throughout the contest, Paul was able to keep his mother's contention a secret from her, even going so far as to delay teaching her how to use Facebook so he could continue to coordinate voting efforts on the social media platform.
"I kept trying to use it, and I kept asking him to show me how it worked," Carol said. "He'd say, 'I don't have enough time right now.'"
After being notified of his mother winning the contest, Paul set about arranging the surprise. Vizio recorded an interview with Paul talking about his mother, and then he lured her to Wal-Mart under the pretense of having him help her to pick out a new television.
Upon reaching the 60-inch model, Paul pressed a button and the video of his previously recorded interview played. Carol was then presented with the rest of her prizes and the rest of her family, who had been waiting in the wings, came out to share the moment.
"I usually hold it together; there were maybe a couple of small tears, not big ones," Carol said. "It's more inside I guess, but I'm getting teary-eyed still now just thinking about it."
The prize originally called for Carol and Paul to take the trip to Los Angeles together; however, they were able to alter the arrangements in order for Carol and her husband Russ to enjoy it together.
"My dad is just as deserving of all of this," Paul said. "He's very charitable and giving, and he's a really special father."
Paul noted that Vizio has been conducting a similar contest for Father's Day but doubts both of his parents would be allowed to win in the same year.
"My sister wants to (enter him), but I don't think they would really allow it," Paul said. "We're definitely going to have to give him a very special Father's Day, too."
Carol took care to insist that she was more flattered to have been chosen as a finalist for the competition than to have actually won it.
"I think it's incredible that our story was told, but I think that the other stories of the other moms were very worthy as well," Carol Luther said. "There are many, many wonderful mothers out there in the world who have gone through a lot more and they all deserve this, too."
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