#MyHeroMom: The Tale of Two Extraordinary Mothers

Saturday, May 13th wasn’t Mother’s Day, but for two amazing bay area moms, it was a day they will never forget. Both moms were shocked as they walked the red carpet into the Grand Beauty Spa greeted by owner Carmen Sargeant with roses, hero mom sashes and learned they were winners of a decadent day of beauty! After donning plush spa robes they enjoyed a day of beauty, pampering, lunch and a makeover. Neither moms had ever been to a spa before and were delighted!


The contest idea began with Grand Beauty Spa owner Carmen Sargeant herself a mom of three, who was raised by her single mom, Deliah who brought the family to America from the Caribbean in hopes for a better life.

Forty years ago Carmen emigrated to Florida at age 7 with her mom and younger siblings to Tampa. They spoke no English, lived in a tiny trailer in a friend’s backyard, wore donated clothes and ate when they could afford to. Carmen’s mom learned English, worked two jobs and went to school. Carmen helped raise her younger siblings while being an honor student.


Today, Carmen is all grown up and the proud owner of Tampa Bay’s luxurious 4-star Spa in South Tampa. As Founder of the Grand Beauty Spa, Sargeant is quick to say that she owes all her success to “My Hero Mom.”

“I was blessed with an extraordinary mom, so I wanted to do something to recognize other hero moms out there who are making a difference every day and putting others first,” said Sargeant.

Carmen found the perfect partner in Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine to make possible a special Pamper Day of Beauty for two lucky moms.

“It is such an honor to play a role in the making this special day possible for Shirley and Martha,” said Laura Byrne, of Tampa Bay Parenting. “While every mother is special, these ladies have gone above and beyond to positively impact the lives of their families and others in our community.”


A tiny slip of a lady, 80-year-old Shirley Hingson has always been petite. Yet once you meet Shirley you see how fragile she isn’t. You’ll also see what a force for good she is for so many. Shirley was born in Tampa and was a majorette at Plant High School.

She went on to marry and have a son and two daughters. Tragedy struck when her only son was killed in a car accident at age 19. Her daughters recall their mom’s indominable spirit and that she refused to give in to despair.

“She raised us to do our best and never end the day without looking for a way to improve someone’s else’s day,” said her oldest daughter Valerie who nominated her.

Later, Shirley would become a widow losing her husband to cancer. As her girls grew up, Shirley began a fierce battle with a rare vascular disorder that required two different amputations of her right leg. Then, three stage four sentences of cancer, rounds of chemotherapy and rehab followed. Still, Shirley refused to give up a positive attitude or her volunteer work for the Salvation Army.

Meeting younger people who were amputees while in rehab, Shirley decided that at age 80 she could still make a difference raising money for those who needed prosthetic limbs. That’s when she decided to enter the West Coast Brace and Limb Race for charity in Tampa. The day of the big race her new prosthetic leg malfunctioned early on in the race. Her family tried to get her to quit as the only way she could continue was to painfully drag her leg. She refused to stop.

Tears streaming down her face from the pain, Shirley crossed the finish line with each of her daughters at her side. The rest of the runners who has long since finished the race, watched in astonishment and waited for Shirley to finish cheering her on. They swarmed to hug her as she crossed the finish line. Shirley didn’t seem to care when her prosthesis came off and the blood and blisters on her leg told the story of how much she had endured to finish the race.

Today she speaks to amputees of all ages and challenges them to make a difference and never give up.”


Martha Cothron lives in Clearwater, Florida and is an autism mom who works in her community and around the globe teaching people how to read. She is a full-time, highly regarded middle school reading teacher at Dunedin Middle School adored by her students as well as a Girl Scout troop where she is a Leader.

Martha was adopted as a little girl. She explained, “I always knew in my heart that on day I would adopt a child.” Married to an engineer in Tampa, Martha walked through a mall in Pinellas County one day several years ago and stood transfixed looking at a photo exhibit of foster children looking for forever families. The Heart Gallery of Pinellas County was visiting the mall with a photo display of foster children seeking forever families. “That was it,” said Martha. “I know one of those children someday would be mine.” Martha and her husband went on to become foster parents and eventually adopted a little boy and girl they fostered.

Five years ago, Martha adopted a seven-year-old boy who she fostered from the time he was two, and a six-year-old girl who she fostered from the time she was six months old. As soon as the children she and her husband had already fallen in love with, were eligible to be adopted, they proceeded with their adoption.

“Martha is the cheerleader everyone should have cheering in the corner,” said a friend who nominated her “Martha has a heart that is so big there are no limits to how far she will go to help a child or parent in need. If the world had more Martha’s we wouldn’t need foster care!”