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Tiphany Adams: Finding Wholeness and Healing

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Never take life for granted. It’s a phrase that is often used to help us remember that life is fleeting, because tomorrow is not a given; it’s a hope. 

Tragedy can touch anyone at a moment’s notice. It doesn’t play favorites or provide any sense of fairness. Sometimes tragedy can be simply about a loss, and sometimes it can be about loss of what was. Too often, we get lost in the irrelevant aspects of life. From the mundane every day to the extraordinary, every moment is meant to be cherished.

But for Tiphany Adams, tragedy was the impetus to become more than just grateful. She has become unstoppable. “Often that’s when we grow our most; it’s when we experience something that is looked upon as a tragedy. In my personal experience, I chose to triumph over tragedy. I chose to turn my tragedy into a complete transformation, into something beautiful.” 

The Crash
On October 15, 2000, Tiphany got into the back seat of a friend’s car as a carefree teenager. In the early morning hours of the next day, she would be struggling to live. A drunk driver collided head on at 130 mph with the car she and her friends were in. What followed was a tragic scene, one that happens too often as a result of driving while intoxicated. “The drunk driver was going so fast that the license plates quite literally were welded together,” shared Tiphany.

Everyone at the scene was pronounced dead, including Tiphany. But emergency service responders heard a voice and, using the jaws of life, removed her from the wreckage. “The last thing I remember was clicking my seatbelt and putting it behind my shoulder, and the Tule fog. I remembered the Tule fog,” said Tiphany. 

She endured hours of surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma for three weeks; at that point, the doctors told her family that she had about a 5 percent chance of survival. “When someone asks me if I believe in miracles, I say I’m living proof that miracles are real.” At 17, Tiphany would be diagnosed as a paraplegic. “I’m definitely gifted to be alive. I feel very blessed. It was a very traumatic thing to wake up in a hospital with my legs feeling asleep. My dad told me that I would never walk again, and that I would need to use a wheelchair for the rest of my life.” 

Life After the Accident
After waking from the coma, she was not aware that her friends had lost their lives that night. “For a long time, all I could do was just be happy that I was alive. I don’t think I really knew what to feel, other than grateful. But I think I was just in shock. The doctors were really worried about survivor’s guilt and PSTD, but I was just happy to be alive,” said Tiphany. 

But years later, the survivor’s guilt would finally catch up with her. Although she felt that surviving the accident was divine intervention, she also realized that she was internalizing the trauma of what had happened. “After the accident I realized that I needed to find a healthy way to cope. I turned to fitness, and it helped me heal.” 

Pushing Forward
Before the accident, Tiphany had plans to move to Los Angeles after high school to become a model and actress. Recovering from her injuries and learning how to live with never being able to walk again took its toll at first, but she never gave up on her dreams. Fiercely independent, at 24 she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and modeling. “I always knew I wanted to be in entertainment. When I moved to LA, I didn’t see anyone doing film or TV in a wheelchair. It was hard to know where to start, but I didn’t let that stop me,” she affirmed. 

Making her dreams of becoming an actress a reality, in 2012 Tiphany starred in Push Girls, the reality television show on the Sundance Channel. It was the first of its kind, showing the lives of four women who live with spinal cord injuries. “It was a wild time for me, to have been thrown into entertainment without understanding how things can be edited,” she shared. “Now I live my life a bit differently; I have matured since then, and I have a fabulous supportive boyfriend.” 

She has made appearances on The Dr. Phil Show as an interventionist to raise awareness about drunk driving. Her documentary, titled simply Tiphany, has been critically acclaimed. As a motivational speaker, she travels the world to educate others about living with a disability and about the dangers of driving intoxicated. She aims to inspire those who feel like giving up to keep moving forward. 

“I am incredibly blessed. God has given me this gift, and, in a sense, it became my purpose in life to push forward. I don’t think I would have been given this opportunity if I hadn’t gone through my own tragedy. It became a very deep experience, one that I want to use to help others,” shared Tiphany. 

Wings for Life
Wings for Life World Run is a global charity event designed to help raise money for a cure and to bring awareness to spinal cord injuries, sponsored by Red Bull. The hope and expectation are that someday there will be a cure. The race takes place each year at various locations around the world. Everyone begins the race at the same time, providing a sense of solidarity for those who are affected by spinal cord injuries

In 2015, Tiphany was asked to do an interview for the Wings for Life World Run to help support their cause. “I was so honored to be asked to do an interview. I was excited to know that there was finally a foundation advocating for the cure for spinal cord injuries,” Tiphany affirmed. She had no intention of competing in the race; less than 20 minutes later she was signing up to take part in the event. “I didn’t know there was this athlete within me, but there I was, doing the Red Bull Wings for Life World Run!” 

She took first place in the women’s wheelchair division. She would go on to take first place in 2016, 2017 and 2018. “I feel very fortunate and blessed to take first place because there is no other race like it. It’s so beautiful and inspiring, not only to me, but to people around the world,” said Tiphany. 

Training for the race takes its toll on her body, but she is grateful nonetheless. She is also excited about her new sponsor, Top End Wheelchair. “I have a new wheelchair with a hand cycle. I’ve never used one before, so I’m really excited about having this new opportunity, and I’m very grateful for my sponsor,” revealed Tiphany. The 2019 Red Bull World Run is set to take place in the United States in Sunrise, Florida, on May 5, 2019. 

Advocate for Abilities
In addition to helping Wings for Life raise awareness, Tiphany also works to educate others about living with a disability. Giving speeches at charity events and universities around the world, she strives to inspire those who feel hindered by their disabilities. 

“If someone thinks they are struggling in life, try throwing in a disability. Challenges range from insurance to medical bills and supplies, to not being able to find employment that can accommodate, to housing. Plus, the stigma that surrounds people with disabilities makes it even harder to overcome,” shared Tiphany. Through the Tiphany Adams Ability Awareness Project, she talks with high school students across the country to focus on ability, not disability, and the amazing things people of all abilities can accomplish. 

Tiphany’s goal is to not only raise awareness for one of the largest minorities in the world, but to be a source of inspiration. “I think it’s important to advocate for a community that needs a louder voice. It is my hope that by speaking about spinal cord injuries, in the future people will see the person, not the disability.” 

Actress, model, certified personal trainer, fitness coach and inspirational speaker are just a few roles that Tiphany has under her 25” wheels. Last month, she added fashion entrepreneur with the launch of her online boutique, tiphanysboutique.com. With more than 100,000 Instagram followers, it’s no secret that she is nothing shy of amazing. She has beauty, brains and epic arm strength. With a radiant smile and sun-kissed blonde hair, she is determined to take on the world; she relishes in the beauty of life and never takes a second of it for granted.  

“The healing journey is a conscious choice. Every morning I choose to wake up and be happy. I choose to be grateful, because I feel so grateful to be alive. I knew I had a calling, and my accident pushed me to where I belong.”

Follow Tiphany on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For more about her, visit tiphanyadams.com.