Regis "live" in Highland Mills

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:59

    HIGHLAND MILLS-Patricia Early of Highland Mills is a step-mother of four grown children. She is battling lung cancer. And TV personality Regis Philbin came to honor her this week. Every year, the day-time talk show "Live with Regis and Kelly" gives five "special mothers" a chance for their wishes to become reality. This year, the 15th annual event found a local mother for its "Mom's Dream Come True Show." The show will air this morning (Friday, May 6) on channel 7, WABC-TV. It all began when Early's step-daughter, Kathleen Early-Buglino, wrote a letter, nominating her step-mother for everything she has done, from raising she and her sibling as if they were her own and to now battling her body's cancer. "She has been with my father for 16 years and had begun raising by younger sister at 7. She took in us kids, which was unbelievable. But now she is sick, very sick," the local elementary school teacher told The Photo News in an interview just hours after all the excitement unfolded with the cameras rolling. "I just wanted to say ‘thank you' to her for being such a great mom. My mother (birth mother) passed away in 83' from a drunk driver. But she took care of my three sisters and me, like we were her own," she continued. Anton Tantalos, the owner of the Ocean Grille restaurant on Route 32 in Highland Mills, where the 16 member-family celebrated after the surprise from Regis, said he couldn't believe it when he pulled up to his restaurant earlier and saw all the commotion. He later found out that the production crew and the Early family decided to use the parking lot of the restaurant - "that they always come to" - in order to meet, plan and set everything up. "I come in and they have a Lowe's truck and moving trucks and they are loading them. I walked over and asked a guy what was going on in my parking lot and he said, ‘Waiting for Regis.' When I heard about the prizes and the letter for Mother's day for the mother with cancer, I was very touched," Tantalos said. Kathleen Early-Buglino described some of the prizes her mother had won. "She got new furniture from Ashley's, maid service for a year, new kitchen appliances like a new stove and dishwasher, a $10,000 shopping spree and a week-long Norwegian cruise for all 16 members of our family," she merrily said. But all the gifts were side-change for this step-daughter who simply wanted to thank her mother for all that she has done. When it was time to speak to Patricia Early, the older woman with her hat and napkin on her lap looked over her shoulder at this reporter. "Can I speak to you for a few moments, ma'am?" this reporter asked. She glanced around the table at her family who were there to celebrate their love for her, including her little grandchildren who gazed from the other side of table, not wanting to lose a single moment. "Only if it's no more than a few moments," she replied.