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Meet our Mother of the Year

May 12, 2013
Heather Cimino
Heather Cimino: 2013 Mother of the Year: Heather Cimino. Friend Amanda Turner nominated her for her strength in raising 3 boys while caring for her husband, Nick, who was diagnosed with cancer in Jan. 2012. The interviews were recorded April 17. Nick died May 11.
Heather Cimino, with her husband, Nick, and their three boys, Dominic, Drecon and D’Mitri. / Photo by April Frye Photography


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Every year, we ask Southwest Florida residents to nominate great moms in our community.

This year, we received more than 70 nominations. A panel of judges narrowed the field to 10. Then the public got to meet the Top 10 finalists and vote for their favorites on

Now, we get to reveal the winners.

The mom with the most votes, and thus our 2013 Mother of the Year, is Heather Cimino, of Fort Myers.

The very same week that Heather gave birth to her third son, D’Mitri, in January 2012, her husband, Nick, was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer.

“She has managed more than a year of surgeries, recoveries, chemo, radiation and the terrible news in November that Nick’s cancer was back and had spread,” friend Amanda Turner wrote in her nomination essay. “She still manages to sign the boys up for soccer or basketball and give them some sense of normalcy while building memories of their father they will never forget.”

Heather knew the pains that cancer brings. She worked with cancer patients as lead nuclear medicine technologist for Lee Memorial Health System.

A long list of people rallied behind her, including complete strangers, and many donated to the Cimino Sarcoma Fund.

The outpouring of support from the community gave Nick some measure of assurance.

“It gives me great comfort to know that Heather and the boys will always have the support of family, friends, neighbors, community. Thank you,” Nick wrote April 29 in his blog on In that post, he also wrote about Heather being nominated for Mother of the Year. “I would be honored if she got your votes.”

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Nick died Saturday morning, but not before he heard Heather had won. She found out Thursday and the news made Nick brighten up, said Amanda Turner, the friend who nominated Heather.

As this year’s Mother of the Year, Heather receives a summer getaway package to the Hyatt Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Estero.

The mom with the second most votes — Ashley Long, an equally amazing woman—receives a series of style consultations from Image Matters worth $1,500 and services from Trini in Private Salon & Spa worth $500.

Ashley is a Fort Myers mom to two boys and a little girl who’s been in the local spotlight, too. You might know her as Baby C. Carolena Long, now 3, was born with Heterotaxy Syndrome, a rare birth defect involving the heart and other organs. She has only a single-ventricle heart, no spleen and multiple gastrointestinal defects. She requires around-the-clock care, and because even a small number of germs could be devastating to her health, she can’t attend day care.

Ashley works full time as a judicial assistant with Carolena by her side, spends countless hours reading medical journals, takes Carolena to her appointments and the boys to their school functions, makes time to work out every day and strives to improve her family’s eating habits with Paleo meals, snacks and “treats,” wrote her husband, Kevin Long, in his nomination of Ashley.

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