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state mother of the year
Tennessee_Stephanie Watson

Meet Stephanie Watson, 2023 Tennessee Mother of the Year®

March 29, 2023


Stephanie is the epitome of love. She loves her family and her community. It is shown by her selfless giving and advocacy to change lives. Her life changed twelve years ago when her now 17-year-old daughter, Emily, was injured in a violent wreck. Emily was just five years old when she was hit by a drunk driver and paralyzed from the chest down. Emily now uses a wheelchair with a 2% chance to walk again. Through community fundraisers and awareness events, Stephanie has shared Emily’s story, spearheaded the effort to help her daughter live a normal life, and, touched thousands of lives. Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University and a master’s degree from Cumberland University. She completed the Volunteer Advocacy Project through Vanderbilt University in 2022. Stephanie was appointed to serve as a member of the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Planning and Policy Council for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. She also received the 2022 Voice for Victims Award in Middle Tennessee. Stephanie is a member of the ARC, NAQ, and the United Spinal Association. In Stephanie’s free time, she now advocates for people with disabilities and works on making her community more accessible for people with disabilities. Stephanie loves making memories with Emily and Jake, her husband, and enjoys traveling, sleeping, and learning. She is also a die-hard Iowa Hawkeye fan.

What surprises you most about being a mom?

The amount of love I have for my daughter. She is my reason for being. Her happiness is what I live for.

Who has been impactful in your journey as a mother? What lessons do you carry with you and share often through motherhood?

My mother and father have been the most impactful. They have taught me how to advocate and be a strong mom during the toughest times.

What continues to inspire you in your motherhood journey?

My daughter continues to inspire me. Her strength and determination to overcome all she has been through are what keep me going.

How has being a mom shaped your life?

Being a mom—Emily’s mom—is my purpose. I can’t thank God enough for choosing me to be Emily’s mom.

Share one of your favorite stories from motherhood.

When my daughter was much younger, I used to read her two bedtime stories, every night. One book was one she got to pick and one I got to pick. I always chose the Children’s Bible. There was a story in the Bible about Noah and the rainbow. A month or so after I read that story to Emily, we were driving home and a rainbow appeared. She said, “Look momma, a rainbow, it’s a promise from God.” I don’t think I have ever been prouder.