Photo by Corinne Nicholson
BRASELTON -- Little Maggie Sue Romeo was an "extra blessing," for parents Frank and Dana Romeo when she arrived in January 2007.
Already parents to daughters Madison and Megan, the Romeos knew they had something special in little Maggie Sue.
This week, their precious 3-year-old is a finalist in "LIVE! with Regis and Kelly's" Beautiful Baby contest.
In New York City for a photo shoot with Parenting magazine, the family will learn during today's 9 a.m. broadcast on ABC if Maggie Sue is the winner.
"It was real exciting," Dana Romeo said after Thursday's appearance on the program.
The Braselton woman said she entered the contest with hopes of seeing her daughter's picture on a Web site, among the thousands of entries. But she kept checking the Web site and could never find the picture.
Instead, on Monday, she saw her daughter's smiling mug on TV, named as a top 10 finalist. The family had 24 hours to lobby friends to vote for the tyke to make the top five.
Then, as snow fell in Gwinnett Tuesday morning, the mother and daughter tuned in to learn they made the cut and had to pack quickly for the Big Apple.
"I said, 'Baby, you're going to New York City,'" Romeo said, adding that her daughter couldn't wait to pick up her prize of apple juice and Gerber Puffs.
In a whirlwind, Romeo drafted her mother to join her on the trip, as her husband was out of town on business, and her father stayed home to be there when Madison and Megan returned home from school. They left so quickly that Dana Romeo forgot to pack toys for her daughter to play with on the plane.
"In my mind, I had laid out things I would grab, but I thought I might jinx it (to pack early)," Romeo said.
In two days, Maggie Sue has appeared on the live broadcast and participated in the photo shoot, which will determine the winner, who will appear on the magazine's cover.
"She did real good, I thought," Romeo said. In a video played on Thursday's broadcast, Maggie Sue could be seen talking with Regis and Kelly, sitting on their laps and posing for pictures.
"She has decided that Miss Kelly is her best friend. She thinks she's the greatest thing in the world," Dana Romeo said.
While Maggie Sue is thrilled for the food, her parents are ecstatic that the girl will get a $25,000 college scholarship. If she wins the contest today, that number will increase to $125,000.
"We are tickled to death," said Dana Romeo, a Snellville native. "It'll help out a bunch when you've got three girls who have a lot of expenses."