An Inspiring Story of Self Sacrifice
"The day my mother left was basically a normal day," Alex recalls. "After she packed up all her stuff, she came in the living room and gathered us all around and said, 'You know, I'm going on a trip.' She said goodbye to us." That was seven years ago when Alex was 14, and her mother left her stepfather, and her five brothers and sisters ages four to 11 to fend for themselves. "It was a mass of confusion. It was definitely very hard," Alex says. "I worried that my mother was dead .... I would search the obituaries trying to find anything."
Only Online! Hear more from Alex and get her siblings' thoughts on their courageous sister and their huge surprise from Rachael! Plus, share your reactions and chat with Alex on the message boards.
After a month, Alex realized her mother was permanently gone. "I could never imagine doing what my mother did," she says. "No kid deserves that at all." So Alex stepped up and became a generous parent to four of her siblings. "A typical day for me," the now 21-year-old explains, "is getting up really early, getting the kids up, getting breakfast done, getting them out the door for school, coming home, doing whatever chores, picking them up again, make dinner, get them ready for bed -- we're done for the day and ready for the next day." Though she dropped out of school, her siblings are now A students as Alex devotes herself to their well-being. "I've sold clothes, I've sold jewelry. I sell whatever I have if they need money for something."
Alex continued searching for their real mother and received shocking news during a recent Internet search. "I found that she was re-married, living in the UK," she says. "She had been publishing books, and I read that she wanted to have another baby with her new husband and that was terrible because she has all her babies here." Alex tried to get in touch with her mother by having a British newspaper print her story, but she's received no response. Rachael also invited Alex's mother to tell her side of the story. "Our producers tried diligently to contact your mom and didn't hear back from her," Rachael says. "To be fair, we thought of course we'd love to give her any avenue to respond."
Alex is in much closer contact with her other out-of-town relatives. "All my family's in Pittsburgh, so I talk to them every day. I'm keeping in touch as best I can," Alex says. "They do so much to help me and the kids that I couldn't thank them enough." When Alex says she's saving up to see her family for the first time in 12 years, Rachael has an even better offer. "We wanted you to be able to say hello to them -- it is the holidays and all -- so they're here to say hi to you. Come out fam!" Rach announces as Alex's aunt and two cousins walk out, to Alex's disbelief.
As Alex enjoys the teary reunion, Rachael tops it off by handing the generous sibling five sets of round trip airline tickets so she and her brothers and sister can visit their family whenever they like. "I don't think she's going to stop crying any time soon!" says Rachael, as she adds on a $5,000 gift card to JCPenney's American Living line and a box filled with $25,000 in cash. "Oh my God!" Alex says. "I'm going to have a heart attack!" Rach tries to calm Alex, and says the money comes with one simple request for this 21-year-old who has given everything for her family: "Do something fun for you!"
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