By Stephanie Lucero, CBS 11 News


ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Carol Daley thought the competition was over and she wasn’t a winner.  But the Arlington mother received a surprise knock on her door today.

Daley was notified she was “America’s Most Deserving Mom,” a competition sponsored by the Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“My little boy doesn’t speak yet and one day he will, God willing, he’ll be speaking” says Daley, when she accepted her prizes.  She says many other mothers are also deserving of the title.  “We call ourselves warrior moms and we fight for our children, that’s what we do” says Daley.

She won a 2011 Buick Enclave, a one-week stay at a resort in Destin, Florida, airfare and $1,000 spending money.

Daley was one of more than 82 million deemed eligible for the contest.  She and her husband submitted a video that led to her winning the competition.

“It (the video) focused not so much on her and why she deserved to win the trip” says Erin Burns, a spokesperson for the Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.  “But more for her son and on why he loves the beach and why it’s a good environment for him to be in” says Burns.

Daley is the mother of a seven-year-old son, Will, who was born three months premature.  Daley was pregnant with triplets.  She says her unborn twins died in the womb but Will survived.  He had a number of serious medical problems after his birth and he is autistic.  Daley quit her job in sales to take care of Will full time.

In the last seven years her husband, Bill Daley, says his wife has worked tirelessly on their son’s behalf and on behalf of other children with developmental delays.   “This is an affirmation that, golly, she’s doing something right” says Mr. Daley.  “I think it’s wonderful for her to get a pat on the back and a kudos” he adds.

Carol Daley says her son is now able to say some words thanks to an a form of therapy that is considered experimental by insurance companies.  It’s called ABA, Applied Behavioral Analysis, and Daley says her son gets a reward when he performs tasks or says a word outlined in the therapy.

Daley says many forms of therapy for autistic children are not covered by insurance and she believes some families will go bankrupt paying for them.  The Daley’s say they need a new car and their son enjoys time at the beach and that’s why they entered the contest.

Daley says she and her husband still have hope that their son will learn to talk and read and write.  They also say they hope he will be able to go to college.  “He just turned seven and as a mom I refuse to give up on dreams for my son” says Carol Daley.