Hailey Lystad took a picture of daughter Ava last year and entered it in a Mother’s Day card contest through Hallmark. She won the grand prize, and the cards were sold in more than 11,000 stores nationwide. Photo by Karina Whitmarsh, KP News

Most parents take hundreds of pictures of their first baby, and Hailey Lystad and her husband Caleb have done the same with their daughter Ava. But one of those photos recently won a national photo contest for Hallmark’s your Parenthood: Make a Mom or Dad smile Mother’s Day card contest.

When Ava was four months old Hailey took a picture that she said her friends and family encouraged her to enter in a photo contest.

“They just went wild for it and said it needed to be in a contest, so I was looking for a place where I could enter it,” she said. “I went to Hallmark (online) and at that time they happened to be running a contest.”

That was in December, and she said about three weeks later she got the call explaining she was chosen for the Mother’s Day card contest.

More than 2,000 entered the contest, and Lystad became a finalist. She won a prize of $250 for making it into the finals, and also a $250 donation to a charity of her choice.

Gateway Medical Alliance was her choice, and she said they work in Morocco to help rebuild homes damaged by the earthquake.

“The people that run that portion of the charity go to our church and we wanted to help donate when we can to them,” she said.

A mini contest began in March, based on online votes. The winner of that contest was a Fan Favorite, and though Lystad didn’t win that contest, she did win overall with combined sales and online votes. The grand prize was $2,500.

The picture of Ava has her hair standing on end. The message inside says, “Being a mom is hard work. It can make your hair stand on end. Happy Mother’s Day.” The photo and message are the work of Lystad.

“It was a fluke picture, and the only one I had taken that night,” she said.
Hallmark liked the picture and plans to use it again, she said.

Inside Edition visited the family and they were also featured on King 5 News, and there is a congratulatory post on hallmarkcontest.com.

“It’s a lot of fun to see that she is such a hit across the country,” Hailey said.

The cards were sold as Mother’s Day cards in more than 11,000 stores nationwide, including Hallmark, Walgreens and Wal-Mart stores.

Ava is enjoying the attention, Lystad said. At 16 months she loves cameras, and Lystad said she is exploring the possibility of a talent agency.

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