Jacksonville’s Amazing Mom Contest – Finalists!

We all know how tough the job of “Mother” can be. Reading through the submissions for our Amazing Mom contest was inspiring, to say the least. Nominations from daughters, husbands, co-workers, and even an ex-daughter-in-law!

Amazing Mom ContestThe JMB team had their work cut out for them but we were able to narrow down the field to SIX finalists. Believe me, if we could, we would give EVERY mom a prize. As fellow moms we know how hard it is to take care of your children, your family, and then hopefully, yourself.

We felt the following six moms really stood out from an already amazing group of moms. Please take a few minutes and read the nominations. Then, choose the mom you feel is most deserving of our amazing prize package.

The winner will receive:

  • Family Session from Pink Coffee Photography– family shoot with a CD of high-resolution images (a $575 value!).
  • A Signature Facial and Pedicure from Frenchy’s Live Love Spa!
  • Cupcake Decorating for you and 5 of your besties from Sweet by Holly! (can also be used for the kiddos)
  • Signed Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make In Your Cupcake Pan from Sweet by Holly’s very own Hollis Wilder!
  • A custom color, cut, and blowout from Ten Salon in Ponte Vedra Beach!
  • $250 gift basket from Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery!



Finalist #1: Blake Barkoskie

Nominated by: Her friend, Michele Megas

BlakeBlake Barkoskie is a wonderful mama. Mom to Will, Caroline and Olivia, and she is also an avid volunteer with positive spirit and joyful attitude. Blake’s son Will has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which has a life expectancy of about 25 years. There is currently no cure or treatment for Duchenne MD. Blake was able to raise $14,000 for “Willz Crew” this year, and close to $50,000 over 3 years, for the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Musclewalk to raise awareness of and funds for curing Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy through her outreach efforts. 

In addition, in 2013 she put on the Junior League of Jacksonville’s Holiday Market, which raised thousands of dollars and welcomed vendors from all over the country. She has been a Junior League member since 2005 chairing numerous committees in many cities, including Jacksonville, Ft Worth and Columbia, SC. It’s a rare League member that works on more than one committee per year.  

When I first met Blake, she had a TRIPLE placement. And the next year she served on the Board of Directors for the Junior League of Jacksonville as well. Blake is also is active in countless other organizations, including Will and Caroline’s schools.  And you can find her helping at the St. Augustine Children’s museum and in her Church’s nursery too.

As if this isn’t enough, she started a PR and marketing agency, Lagniappe Creative, which provides freelance services for small businesses and nonprofit agencies. Blake is a consistent happy life force. She is always laughing, always positive, even after tough doctor’s appointments when she has to hear difficult news about Will’s prognosis.  It breaks my heart to watch her hurt for her son, as she is such a loving, caring and positive mother.  

Blake’s husband Bill is also a great parent and wonderful person, who often travels for work for weeks at a time to places as far away as Europe. This means Blake is often parenting three children by herself for several weeks at time, in addition to all her volunteer work. Her house is also kid-heaven, with nothing but toys in the living and dining rooms (no furniture), and she throws super fun, kid-friendly parties with wonderful Pinterest-worthy themed food!!!!

Everyone she knows is continually made better by her infectious laugh, her generous heart, and her positive can-do determination, whether that is for the organizations she is working for, or for her children. Blake truly embodies what every mother should be to her children, even as she faces a difficult and uncertain future with her oldest.

Finalist #2: Heather Crane

Nominated by: Her Husband, Michael Crane

Heather Crane
Heather and her Mom

Heather is an amazing mother to five (ages: 8, 7, 5, 3, 5 months) beautiful children! She gave birth to her first two sons in Thailand. Her second two sons were born in the Middle East in Amman, Jordan. Heather has just returned to the U.S. after living oversees for the last ten years, where she just gave birth to a daughter.

Heather is not only an amazing mother to her own children, but while living in India in the foothills of the Himalayas, she took in three Bhutanese boys from a remote village on the border of Bhutan and India. These boys had no opportunity for an education. One was from a poor family, and the other two, their mother committed suicide by catching herself on fire. These boys lived with Heather and her family in a small mountain town called Kalimpong. They were able to get an education, because a new mother herself, was able to step in and put her desires aside, and put these children’s future in the forefront. Heather had just become a brand new mother herself with her first born. Not only was she a new mother, but now she found herself to be a mother of two. From a mother of two, to a mother of four. Then a mother of five, all in the matter of a few months. (Two children were her biological children, and three were not. Heather now has five biological children between her and her husband.)
Heather is an amazing selfless mother, always sacrificing her desires for her family and others. She home schools her children five days a week, reads them stories before bed every night, and my words would fail you, if I tried to tell you everything she does for our children, in just 500 short words. Those around her are always amazed and challenged by the way she lives her life. Heather is truly an amazing mother, woman, and wife! My children are truly blessed to have a mother like her. Although my children may not recognize it now, when they are grown and out of the house, they will then truly recognize what they have been blessed with!

Finalist #3: Amber McLean

Nominated by: Her friend, Sarah Smith

Amber McLeanOne out of every 68 children has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. For the child who receives that diagnosis, there is a mother learning how to cope with having a child with that diagnosis. I met one of those mothers in 2009.

As a new graduate, a young executive, and a recently married woman with no children, I conducted the initial parent meeting in a strictly business-like manner while explaining how far behind their little boy was compared to typically developing peers. Amber, although she cried, paid attention to everything I said, asked questions throughout the meeting, and did not hold back when setting goals for her son. Instead of leaving deflated, Amber left that meeting ready to fight.

Amber moved away from her husband and family to be close to Jackson’s school during the week.  She was lonely and was often emotionally exhausted having to be both a single mother and a therapist, but Amber tried not to complain because this was what was best for her child. While Jackson was blossoming at school, Amber was still having a difficult time with his behaviors, so I started supervising Jackson’s therapy at home. Through these in-home sessions, I got to know Amber on a personal basis and she became my friend.

While following a therapeutic protocol at home, Amber called me crying because she couldn’t stand listening to her baby cry for her and she was scared that the neighbors would call the police again.  I remember encouraging her to stick it out because it was what he needed, and she did.

Now, as a parent of two young children, I know that I was asking her to do something impossible and I reflect upon this when I am put in the same situation with my toddler. Amber has also influenced my professional demeanor as I am able to be more empathetic with my client’s parents and can make recommendations based on the perspective of a parent with a child with special needs instead of just a clinician.

Amber is the strongest person I know, she has sacrificed so much to help her son, she gives everything she has for her family, she advocates for awareness and acceptance, and she inspires me to be a better person and a better mother. Amber is an amazing mom and woman.

Finalist #4: Angie Khakpour

Nominated by: Kelly Miller, Co-Worker and Friend

AngieAngie Khakpour is an amazing, selfless, and passionate mom. She is a single mom of two beautiful children Layla and Jude. She loves spending time with her kids playing games, visiting museums, and making memories out of the everyday moments in life. Her son Jude is hearing impaired and has just recently received two cochlear implants. She not only supports Jude’s school through fundraising events, but also recently went to Tallahassee with her daughter Layla to advocate for an amendment that supports deaf and hard of hearing children.

In addition to being passionate about her own children, she is also passionate about the children she teaches at Greenfield Elementary. As a 5th grade teacher, she is always pursuing ways to help her students learn and grow not only in academics but also in character. She dedicates countless hours of her own time before and after school to tutor her students to help them reach their fullest potential. She believes in them even when they don’t always believe in themselves.

Angie Khakpour has experienced obstacles and challenges in her life, but she always has a positive attitude and a beautiful smile on her face. She inspires everyone she comes into contact with to never give up and always remember that one person (or mom) can make a difference!

Finalist #5: Alba M Orozco

Nominated by: Her Daughter, Mayling A Fernandez


My mother is so amazing. She is a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and all other things.  She helps people everyday and always puts others’ needs before hers. She barely ever takes a day off and is always running around. She works for the Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of St. Augustine and has been working there for more than 12 years. She is up and running the house at 5 AM every morning and usually ends her day around 10 PM.

She is involved in many other things having to do within the realm of the Dioscese of St Augustine and also with the Duval County schools. Her big passion is immigration and trying to help all those family who are separated because of deportation. She works with many lawyers and other community leaders to try to get them legal and together with their families. She travels at least once a month to take courses to learn more about immigration and other subjects that have to do with her ministry to become more knowledgeable and to be able to help out more.

She also goes to smaller (poor) communities (usually people who might be immigrant fruit pickers) throughout Florida to take them necessities such as clothes, bathroom/house supplies, and to see what else they need. She goes to these places with local priests to give the people mass or confession so they will feel a sense of community.

My Mom also had a nonprofit organization in Nicaragua for girls who are orphans to help them get through life and learn how they might become someone in life and to keep them going to school. Her goal is to keep them out of the streets and away from teen pregnancies or abuses. She is such a strong woman who never gives up.  She has gone through many tough things in her life such as coming to the United States with her husband and two young girls with only $50 in their pockets (due to the unsafe nature of her country at the moment), leaving all her family behind in her country and coming to a place where she did not know anyone or even speak the English language and still able to acquire a Master’s degree.

She has dealt with her husband battling two types of cancer.  She has pushed her family forward from day one and does not ever plan on backing down.  She has no plans of retiring because she says she is still young and plans to help as much as she can. I am pretty sure all the Hispanic community knows of her because she is such a wonderful human being and so selfless. Not trying to brag, but I usually mention her name around the community and most people respond with an “I know her, she has been such a great person to us…like an angel to our family.”  She definitely deserves to win this because she needs a day off to enjoy herself since she NEVER does that.

Finalist #6: Janet Vickers

Nominated by: Tara Foltz-Gearhart, her Ex Daughter-in-Law


Janet VickersJanet is a true inspiration to me and everyone she comes in contact with, but mostly her family. Janet isn’t my Mom or my Mother in law (at the moment) but she never ceases to amaze me when it comes to sacrificing for her family (or extended family).

This mother married her husband who already had 4 kids of his own, treated them like her own children and had 2 more kids together with her husband. I was married to her son, Chris in 2004, I had a child already and then we had a son together. Things didn’t work out but that didn’t change our relationship or her relationship with my oldest (who isn’t her blood). She continues to treat us exactly like her family, even my youngest who I have had with my husband now. You should see my kids’ eyes and hearts smile whenever she comes around!

I have never known anyone to sacrifice so much time and money (that she may or may not have at the time) to be with her son, who lives here in Jax, or her son who lives  in Texas. She will work a weeks worth of 12 hour night shifts to have enough time to drive to and spend time with her Son and his family in Texas just to turn around and go back to working many more shifts in a row to make up for it. She never misses any of my kids sports games/practices, school events, or any other life happening (now remember 2 of my 3 kids aren’t even her blood grandchildren).

Janet is the most kind hearted soul who truly lives for her family. You should see her eyes light up whenever she talks about her children, their spouses, grandchildren or future grandchildren (yes, she has one on the way:), granddoggy’s, or extended grandchildren. For that, I thank my (ex) Mother in Law for showing everyone how to have unconditional love for all children even if they’re not blood and showing everyone what it really means to be THE most amazing Mom.

What an AMAZING group of MOMS! Please cast your vote below for your favorite! Winner will be announced May 6!

Vicky Lane
Vicky Lane is the co-owner and co-founder of Jacksonville Mom (formerly Jax Moms Blog). Since 2012, she has been overseeing the content and technical side of Jacksonville Mom. In this role, she manages over 30 writers and works closely with the managing editor to provide the most relevant content for the Jacksonville parenting community. In her previous career, Vicky obtained her Masters in Education and served as University Registrar at the University of North Florida. Wife to adoring husband John, her love for all things “Mom” began in 2010 when their son Brendan was born. Vicky chose to put her full-time career in higher education on hold to spend time with her new baby, giving her a new respect for motherhood and parenting. In June 2012, John and Vicky welcomed sweet Audrey to the family. Vicky has created an amazing circle of Moms who are continuously seeking new ways to enrich their children’s lives in and around Jacksonville. Being part of the creation of an online parenting resource and small business that serves the great Jacksonville area has allowed her to flourish in a successful career while remaining present for her family.


  1. I have known Jennifer (Heather”s Mom) and know what an amazing mom Heather is – she deserves to be the winner since she is the BEST!


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