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A look at how some extraordinary mothers are making a difference

Family cares for mother who gave them so much
How one close-knit family cares for the mother who gave them so much 01:54

Throughout this week, CBS News featured mothers who are making a difference and highlighted the challenges facing women of all ages.

CBS News received hundreds of emails and texts from sons and daughters, husbands, sisters and friends, telling us about their fabulous mothers, stepmothers and mothers-in-law. We heard about generous moms, cancer survivors, glass ceiling-breakers and selfless caretakers. We've selected a few to share with you.

Carol Kemper of Benicia, California

Carol Kemper is the definition of dedicated and selfless. As the oldest of five siblings, she is now the main caregiver for their 91-year-old mother. That is not the only way she is helping those around her. Kemper offers classes that specialize in workouts and therapies for people with Parkinson's disease. She was nominated by her sister, Beth Hussar.

"Some of my earliest memories are of her always taking care of others," Hussar wrote. "She is literally the most committed and loyal person you've ever met."

Carol Kemper and her family.  Courtesy family photo

Gleny Brooks of Felton, Delaware

Gleny Brooks faced a language barrier when she first came to the U.S., but her tenacity and hard work have had an immeasurable influence on her daughter, Johnsenia, who told CBS News that Brooks learned English to give her family a better life.

Johnsenia says her mom taught her the importance of education "because she embodies the fact that education is not only a vehicle for the fulfillment of goals, but it is the experience of searching for purpose and delving deeper into the motivation behind completing said goals."

Gleny Brooks
Johnsenia with her mother Gleny Brooks.  Courtesy family photo

Margaret Smith of Kansas City, Missouri

Margaret Smith is known to her family and friends as "Puddin." Her daughter Latricia told CBS News that Margaret faced many challenges and has always looked out for others. She spends her time crocheting baby blankets, giving bottled water to people in need and checking in on neighbors.

"Our mom still amazes us with her strength, love, faith and push to overcome any obstacles," Latricia wrote.

Margaret is also an enormous fan of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and likes to say she is the Chiefs' unofficial granny.

Margaret Smith
Latricia with her mother Margaret Smith.  Courtesy family photo

Susan Lemons of Green Valley, Arizona

Susan Lemons isn't only an amazing mom, but she's a trailblazer. Her family says she was the first female to graduate from the University of Arizona with a bachelor's degree in physics. Lemons powered through gender bias and broke glass ceilings. She was nominated by her daughter, Toni McGillen, who followed in her mother's footsteps and pursued a career in STEM.

Lemons enjoys giving her children and grandchildren experiences that expand their knowledge and beliefs. McGillen says she is "an amazing mom to me two sons because of ... what she taught me."

Susan Lemons
Toni McGillen with her mother Susan Lemons.  Courtesy family photo

Judy Herzfeld of Yonkers, New York

Judy Herzfeld celebrated her "re-birthday" in April, after undergoing a bone marrow transplant to cure her leukemia. Throughout her treatment, her family describes Herzfeld as "optimistic and unrelenting." She continued managing the family architectural firm while facing chemotherapy. Herzfeld was nominated by her stepdaughter, Jayda Siegler. 

Siegler says her stepmom, who she now calls 'mom,' is not afraid to show weakness but does it with serenity and a 'believing smile.' Now that Herzfeld is in remission, she travels as much as she can and her exuberant laugh is heard for miles.

Judy Herzfeld
Jayda Siegler and her stepmother Judy Herzfeld.  Courtesy family photo
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