No one could fault Sarah Curry's credentials for Mother of the Year.
She had 21 children and now dotes on 32 grandchildren."It just kind of happened. It wasn't anything planned," said daughter Ramona Howe, her second child. "One mom. One dad. One marriage."
Curry, who turns 60 Friday, had 12 girls and nine boys, now ranging in age from 15 to 38. One child died several years ago of a rare blood disorder.
She was the most special Mother's Day guest Sunday for the ceremony at the Monticello Raceway, which sponsored the award.
The harness horse racing track about 85 miles north of New York City held a party for her and one of the day's races was named in her honor - the Sarah Curry Pace.
The family grew up in a big farmhouse, doubling up in beds.
"Everybody knew what they had to do; everybody chipped in with the farm and the animals," Curry said Sunday.
She had lots of help from relatives living nearby while her husband, Raymond, worked for the New York City Water Department as a laborer at upstate reservoirs.
"We kind of shared everything," her daughter said, adding that her mother was thrown off a little by the Mother of the Year award. "She doesn't like all this fuss. It's not her. She's modest."
Curry's offspring all still live in the area, and twice a year they hold family reunions.
"She lives for her kids. There's no doubt about that," Howe said. "She likes us all to be together."
The experience of growing up with so many brothers and sisters scared most off the idea of having big families of their own.
"Almost all of them say they are limiting their families to two children," Curry said.