A Mother's Day surprise for patient's mom

May 9, 2008 4:14:25 PM PDT
An 8th grade English teacher's way with words convinces a talk show to make her mother's dream come true. And it's helped the teacher say thanks.

29-year-old Kim Velardi of Hammonton, N.J., had just moved into a home of her own when leukemia struck.

In an instant, she got a *new roommate - her mother Kathy.

Kathy told Action News,"I wasn't gonna leave, I wasn't gonna go home, so I stayed right here."

She moved into her daughter's new condo, taking what had been the home office. Kathy even slept by her daughter's bed at Cooper University Hospital, where Kim received her treatment. Through 6 months of treatments - and complications - the two have been inseparable.

When Kim heard about a contest on "Live With Regis and Kelly" to grant Mother's Day wishes, she saw a golden opportunity.

"Right away, the wheels started spinning, and I decided I had to get on the computer," she says of plotting out the letter she sent off to the show's New York City office.

Kim won!

And Regis Philbin himself delivered the news - Kathy was getting a new kitchen.

As he walked into her home, Regis told a teary-eyed Kathy, "We're here because of the wonderful things you did for your daughter."

Kathy recalls, "Who thought I would see Regis in my living room!"

Also making the happy offer was Lauren Lake, the host of HGTV's "Spice Up My Kitchen," followed by a truck, and about 30 workers from Lowe's Home Centers.

Kim describes the scene, "Regis Philbin is walking down my street, the Lowe's trucks care coming down my street, with maybe 40, 50 workers. It was just unbelievable."

The celebrity visit was front-page news in the two newspapers for Hammonton, a town where the Velardis say, "Everyone knows each other."

Kathy was banned from the house, left to imagine what was going on. With her characteristic chuckle, she told us, "They said what do you want? At first, I was shy - then I said - you really want to know? Stainless steel appliances, granite tops, hardwood floors..."

This morning on the show, everyone got to see the magical transformation - a new kitchen, living room - and back yard.

As she was led into the kitchen, she took off her blindfold, and gasped, "Oh my god!!!!" Over & over, Kathy said, "It's incredible."

After the show's film crew finished, neighbors were invited into the home, where they got their look at what had been a 1970s era kitchen, now in 21st century style.

Kim Velardi says it was a dream come true for her, too. As she said in her letter, "My mother says what she wants is for me to be healthy. What I want most for my mom, and my dad for that matter, is for their life to go back to normal."