As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, we want to salute ALL of the amazing moms out there, who give tirelessly of themselves, day in and day out, all in the name of the most profound and unconditional kind of love… that between mother and child. While many of the women we profile are mothers, there have been a number of WYSKy moms whose love for their children is particularly extraordinary. These are inspiring women who have built brands, created companies, or started movements and causes specifically for and with the children they so deeply love.
Gretchen Holt Witt
This WYSKy mom was confronted with one of life’s biggest challenges when her 2 year old son Liam was diagnosed in February 2007 with Neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer with no cure. Soon after Liam’s diagnosis, Gretchen and her husband founded the national, non-profit organization Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in 2008. Since, she has been a mom on a mission to help kids fighting cancer… one cookie at a time.
When her daughter was just nine months old, this WYSKy stay-at-home mom turned entrepreneur wanted to know why her contemporaries were still raising their girls to wish upon a star over a sea of “girly” pink in hopes that her prince may someday come. Her solution was Pigtail Pals, a brand devoted to changing the way people think about girls and promoting products that show girls as smart, daring, and adventurous.
This WYSKy mom turned entrepreneur was inspired to create a healthy, packaged, snack food for her 6 year old daughter, who suddenly declared herself a vegetarian, refusing to “eat any animal that was once alive”. Following hundreds of hours in the kitchen and dozens of dinner-table taste-tests, Veronica perfected her recipes and Pure Bars were born. They have since grown into a mass market mega-brand.
Mary Ellen Sheets
In the mid 1980?s, this WYSKy mom was looking for an escape from her cubicle at the same time that her two teenage sons started an after school business using an old pickup truck to help people with short distance moves. With vision, hard work and a clear path to success, together they built Two Men and a Truck. Nearly 30 years later, it is the first and largest local franchise moving company in the United States, boasting over $200 million in sales and more than 200 locations worldwide.
This WYSKy mom, a former film executive, was frustrated by the lack of skincare products for tween girls (a time in a girl’s life when her skin is most vulnerable). This inspired her to start Willa Skincare with her now twelve year-old daughter, Willa. Their brand is not only changing the market for skincare products for young girls, but above all, promotes a lifetime of a healthy skincare routine and confidence for its customers.
This WYSKy mom, a Boston qualified marathoner and ultramarathoner, made her 12 year old daughter Arianna’s dream to “race with mom” come true. Together, Kelli and Arianna (Ari), who has Cerebral Palsy and Visual Impairment, are Team Ari. The dynamic mom-daughter duo race in running events all over to encourage individuals with disabilities to participate in running events.
Ten years ago, this WYSKy mom founded Abigail Riggs, a handbag brand that pays homage to significant women in history through its Purse With A Purpose collection. The brand was born from Gail’s desire to teach her daughter Abigail not only about empowerment and generosity, but about the women pioneers who came before us, especially those who often suffered great personal sacrifice to pave the way for the rest of us.
This WYSKy mom and her husband first became volunteers with the March of Dimes in 2007 in memory of their twins, Chloe and Isabelle, who sadly passed away after being born premature at 26 weeks. That’s when the couple put together Team Levine, which today is fourth in the nation for MoD fundraising. Paulina, now also a March of Dimes Mission Ambassador Speaker, gives much needed hope to the women and families suffering after a pregnancy loss by sharing her own heartbreaking story.