Friday, November 14, 2014

I Was On The News!!

As many of you know, I was in a near-fatal car crash in 2005 with an 18-wheeler merely two weeks after my high school graduation from McKinney North. The crash and impact were so severe that it caused my neck to break, damaged my C6 spinal cord, and ultimately resulted in me becoming paralyzed.

We don't always understand why things happen and can spend our entire lives wondering, questioning, and reliving moments. Or we can embrace our past and present experiences, learn from them, and help others along the way. We have all been through unique and extraordinary events -- some of intense depth, pain, and struggle and others of amazing greatness and honor. We are all on a journey of understanding and purpose and all have something to offer this world.

In 2009, I started sharing my story - a story of perseverance from bullying, recreational drug and alcohol use, and extreme loss; forgiveness; self-discovery; and purpose. One of the organizations that I align with and share my story through is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). I was presented an opportunity this week to serve as a guest speaker at this year's Dallas and Tarrant County Joint DWI Task Force Press Conference (11/12/2014) held in Grand Prairie. The mission was to encourage responsibility during this holiday season and present recent updates to DWI offense handling.


Courtesy: @GrandPrairiePD 

NBC 5 DFW: Holiday DWI Crackdown


"Leaders from Dallas and Tarrant Counties are joining forces to send a simple message- don’t drink and drive. A press conference in Grand Prairie multiple law enforcement agencies, a totaled vehicle from a DWI crash, and a survivor, who said a wrong choice changed her life forever."


Lee, Christine. "Holiday DWI Crackdown." NBC 5 DFW. 12 November 2014. Web. 14 November 2014.!/news/local/Holiday-DWI-Crackdown/282481601.

STAR TELEGRAM: Police to pay special attention to drunken drivers this holiday season

Drunken drivers beware.

Law officers will be out in force this holiday season and looking for such impaired drivers, officials from Tarrant and Dallas counties said Wednesday.

Prosecutors, police, deputies, medical personnel and politicians are all on the same page, said Richard Alpert, Tarrant County assistant district attorney. Those who get pulled over on suspicion of driving drunk will be taken off the streets, they will have their blood drawn even if they refuse to submit to a test, and they will be prosecuted, Alpert said.

Alpert said he expects more than 150 drunken driving arrests in Tarrant County during the holiday season. He said that if people really want to avoid becoming a statistic, they can follow his example.

“I’m not on the roads between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. during the holidays,” Alpert said at a news conference in Grand Prairie. “I leave those roads to the police.”

Most of the people officers expect to arrest are repeat offenders or will have blood-alcohol levels nearly twice the legal limit, which is 0.08, Alpert said.

Tarrant County Commisioner Andy Nguyen also cautioned motorists to designate a sober driver or stay at home during the holiday season.

“The holidays should be a time for rejoicing,” he said, “not for mourning.”
Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye said those who get caught drinking and driving can expect to spend about $10,000 by the time they complete the court process.

“We are all paying for it,” Dye said. “Drunk driving costs an average insurance customer an additional $800 on their yearly insurance premium.”

Jason Derscheied, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is the most dangerous time for those trying to avoid being involved in a collision with an impaired driver.

Near the end of the news conference, Tonya Winchester pulled her wheelchair up to the microphone and said a drunken driver cost her the use of much of her body. Almost a decade ago she was drinking with friends and handed her car keys to a friend who had been drinking but was confident he could drive.

The friend ran a stop sign and an 18-wheeler crashed into her jeep at 40 mph, said Winchester, now 27.

“I woke up two weeks later in a hospital unable to feel, speak or breathe,” Winchester said. “I broke my neck and was told that I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life.”

But that’s not what bothers her most, Winchester said.

“The hardest part of my injury is having to watch the people I love suffer through my decision with me,” she said. “Every decision we make has meaning. My message is to encourage you to think before any decision you make and be responsible.”

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3 THANKS FOR SHARING MY STORY!

Read more here:

Mitchell, Mitch. "Police to pay special attention to drunken drivers this holiday season." Star Telegram: Crime And Safety. 13 November 2014. Web. 14 November 2014.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: DWI enforcers on holiday alert in Dallas and Tarrant counties

GRAND PRAIRIE — Tonya Winchester was trying to avoid driving drunk one night while celebrating her graduation from McKinney North High School in 2005. But the friend to whom she handed her keys wasn’t as thoughtful.

An 18-wheeler slammed into the passenger side of Winchester’s car after her friend — who had also been drinking — barreled through a stop sign into State Highway 5 in McKinney. Winchester woke up in a hospital two weeks later unable to speak, move or breathe.

The 27-year-old Winchester, who remains paralyzed below her chest, shared her story as a cautionary tale Wednesday during an annual news conference to announce ramped-up DWI enforcement for the holiday season in Dallas and Tarrant counties. Officials from both counties said they hope their efforts will deter people from drunken driving during a festive time of the year.

“We’ve got to break the cycle,” Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye said. “As a society, we must collectively send a message that driving while intoxicated is no longer acceptable.”

Officials say their plans will include a no-refusal initiative, which means officers will seek warrants to obtain
blood samples from anyone under suspicion of DWI who refuses to provide the specimens voluntarily.

Prosecutors, magistrate judges, nurses and lab workers are available to police departments around the clock to process arrestees.

Dye said no-refusal initiatives, which have become commonplace around holidays, eliminate the burdensome process that most officers go through during DWI arrests.

Richard Alpert, Tarrant County assistant district attorney, said anyone arrested on a DWI charge would face the full consequences of the law. He expects about 150 cases during the holidays in his county.

He advised people to come up with a plan to avoid driving drunk or becoming a victim of drunken drivers. He said he stays off the roadways between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. “What I’m hoping for is that the community will get the message that those who consider putting themselves and others at risk will understand that this is not the place to do it,” he said.

Dallas County had 49 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2013. Tarrant County recorded 24. That included the four pedestrians killed by 16-year-old Ethan Couch of Burleson, who had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit for adults. Alpert prosecuted the Couch case, which infamously ended in probation for the “affluenza” teen, sparking national outrage. But Alpert said intoxication manslaughter case filings have dropped “surprisingly” recently.

Still, officials said DWI crashes hurt everyone by raising area insurance rate rates. Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, who organizes the annual news conference, said people shouldn’t be afraid to be a “party pooper” by stopping someone from drinking and driving, possibly preventing a life-altering accident.

That certainly rang true for Winchester. In some ways, she has moved on with her life. She studies social work at the University of North Texas. She and her boyfriend celebrated their 12th anniversary recently. And she volunteers for Meals on Wheels and mentors another wheelchair user in McKinney.

Still, the once hard-partying Winchester said she sees herself as not just a victim, but an offender.

“The hardest part of my injury is watching those I love suffer the consequences of my actions alongside of me,” she said. “Day in and day out, their bodies grinding away in my care. All the people that I ran to, that I would party with — they aren’t in my life today.

“But you know who is? My family.”

Hallman, Tristan. "DWI Enforcers on Holiday Alert in Dallas and Tarrant Counties." The Dallas Morning News. 13 November 2014. Web. 14 November 2014.


Monday, November 10, 2014

November Speeches

November 12, 2014 - Speaking at the Dallas County & Tarrant County Joint DWI Press Conference at 10:00 am located at the Grand Prairie Police Headquarters (1525 Arkansas Lane, Grand Prairie, TX 75052).

November 18, 2014 - Speaking at MADD's Adult VIP at 6:00 pm located at the Salvation Army (600 S. Wilson Creek Parkway, McKinney, Texas 75069.

Monday, October 13, 2014

October Speeches

October 18, 2014 - Speaking to MYLIFE teens at 12:00 pm located at the McKinney YMCA. 

October 21, 2014 - Speaking at MADD's Adult VIP at 6:00 pm located at the Salvation Army (600 S. Wilson Creek Parkway, McKinney, Texas 75069.

October 30, 2014 - Speaking for MADD at Winfree Academy at 11:00 pm and 1:00 pm located at
1661 Gateway Blvd.  Richardson, Texas 75080.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August Speeches

August 16, 2014 - Speaking to MYLIFE teens at 12:00 pm located at the McKinney YMCA.

August 20, 2014 - Speaking at MADD's Plano Teen VIP at 6:30 pm located at 900 E. 15th Street, Plano, Texas 75074.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July Speeches

July 15, 2014 - Speaking at MADD's Adult VIP at 6:00 pm located at the Salvation Army (600 S. Wilson Creek Parkway, McKinney, Texas 75069.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Amen! EVERY new day is a blessing! We are here not for ourselves but for the world around us. There are so many problems in the world; so many hurting. We were created to make a difference. Let's not let another day go by wasted. Let's live with purpose!

#YouAreHereForAReason #Believe #Livewithpurpose #EveryDay #EverySecond

Friday, June 27, 2014

6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away

The 6 most toxic behaviors:

1. Taking everything personally

In the powerful little book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about the importance of taking nothing personally. I teach this in my coaching programs and my book Breakdown, Breakthrough as well, and there is so much pushback. “Really, Kathy – don’t take anything personally?” People are toxic to be around when they believe that everything that happens in life is a direct assault on them or is in some way all about them. The reality is that what people say and do to you is much more about them, than you. People’s reactions to you are about their filters, and their perspectives, wounds and experiences. Whether people think you’re amazing, or believe you’re the worst, again, it’s more about them. I’m not saying we should be narcissists and ignore all feedback. I am saying that so much hurt, disappointment and sadness in our lives comes from our taking things personally when it’s far more productive and healthy to let go of others’ good or bad opinion of you, and to operate with your own heart, intuition and wisdom as your guide. So yes – don’t take anything personally.

2. Obsessing about negative thoughts

It’s very hard to be around people who can’t or won’t let go of negativity – when they dwell on and speak incessantly about the terrible things that could happen and have happened, the slights they’ve suffered, and the unfairness of life. These people stubbornly refuse to see the positive side of life and the positive lessons from what’s transpiring. Pessimism is one thing – but remaining perpetually locked in negative thoughts is another. Only seeing the negative, and operating from a view that everything is negative and against you, is a skewed way of thinking and living, and you can change that.

3. Treating yourself like a victim

Another toxic behavior is non-stop complaining that fuels your sense of victimization. Believing you’re a victim, that you have no power to exert and no influence on the direction of your life, is a toxic stance that keeps you stuck and small. Working as a therapist with people who’ve suffered terrible trauma in their lives but found the courage to turn it all around, I know that we have access to far more power, authority, and influence over our lives than we initially believe. When you stop whining, and refuse to see yourself as a hapless victim of fate, chance or discrimination, then you’ll find that you are more powerful than you realized, but only if you choose to accept that reality.

4. Cruelty - lacking in empathy or putting yourself in others shoes

One of the most toxic and damaging behaviors – cruelty – stems from a total lack of empathy, concern or compassion for others. We see it every day online and in the media – people being devastatingly cruel and destructive to others just because they can. They tear people down online but in a cowardly way, using their anonymity as a weapon. Cruelty, backstabbing, and ripping someone to shreds is toxic, and it hurts you as well as your target.
I had a powerful learning experience about this a few years ago. I came into the house one day in a nasty mood, and shared a mean, sniping comment to my husband about the way a neighbor was parenting her child through one of his problem phases. In less than 24 hours, that very same issue the parent was dealing with came home to roost in my house, with my child. It was as if the Universe sent me the message that, “Ah, if you want to be cruel and demeaning about someone, we’ll give you the same experience you’ve judged so negatively, so you can learn some compassion.” And I did.
If you find yourself backstabbing and tearing someone else down, stop in your tracks. Dig deep and find compassion in your heart, and realize that we’re all the same.

5. Excessive reactivity

An inability to manage your emotions is toxic to everyone around you. We all know these people – men and women who explode over the smallest hiccup or problem. Yelling at the bank teller for the long line, screaming at your assistant for the power point error he made, or losing it with your child for spilling milk on the floor. If you find that you’re overly reactive, losing it at every turn, you need some outside assistance to help you gain control over your emotions and understand what’s at the root of your emotionality. There’s more to it that appears on the surface. An outside perspective – and a new kind of support – is critical.

6. Needing constant validation

Finally, people who constantly strive for validation and self-esteem by obsessing about achieving outward measures of success, are exhausting to be around. Those men and women who get caught up in the need to prove their worth over and over, and constantly want to “win” over their colleagues or peers, are toxic and draining.
Overly-attaching to how things have to look and be, and to achieving certain milestones and accomplishments rather than going with life in a more flexible, easy manner, can wear you out and bring everyone else around you down . There is a bigger picture to your life, and it’s not about what you achieve or fail at today. It’s about the journey, the process, the path - what you’re learning and applying, how you’re helping others, and the growing process you allow yourself to engage in.
Stop stressing over the particular outcomes like, “I need that promotion now!” or “My house has to be bigger and more beautiful than my neighbor’s.” Your desperate need to prove your success and build your self-esteem through outer measures of success is (sadly) apparent to everyone but you, and it’s pushing away the very happiness outcomes you’re longing for.

For the article, please visit here.

Caprino, Cathy. "6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them." Linked in. 20 June 2014. Web. 27 June 2014.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Multiplied" by Needtobreathe

Amazing song that captures it all - my love for the Lord! Oh my God! Your love is absolutely amazing and utterly indescribable! Who am I without you or your love? I prais4e you my God and your purpose!

#LoverofHispresence #IHaveSurrendered #Thankful #Blessings #Love #God #Hallelujah

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name

God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Halleluiahs be multiplied


Read more: Needtobreathe - Multiplied Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Needtobreathe. Youtube. 13 June 2014. Web. 23 June 2014.

Monday, June 16, 2014

9th Anniversary of My Car Crash

Today is the 9th anniversary of my car crash & the beginning of a life with purpose. It is through tasting death and loss that I truly learned the value of life and all abilities. How great it is to be alive! How great it is to be able to feel, move, see, hear, think, and speak! How blessed we are! Oh my God! I cry out to you with thanksgiving! THANK YOU FATHER FOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!

#Livewithpurpose #EveryDay

Writings On The Wall:

My Mom: My daughter has come a LONG WAY in all aspects OF HER new life. Today, 9 years ago was her car accident (still can't believe it happened to her and our family). Don't take life for granted. You never know how it can change in an instant! We've been blessed to have her another year! She was found on pavement not breathing, God breathed life back in to her, He was not done with her! She's a living testimony of faith, prayer, perseverance, determination, finding meaning and true purpose in life. We would not have made it without God's guidance and strength, so never give up on a miracle, not even a tiny one.

My Sister: I'm so blessed to have you, sister. Things could be worse and such a loss for all of us to not have you. I love you!

- U have come a long way in 9 yrs love! I'm glad God saved u!
- So glad God sent his angels to save you! You're a great person and we love you!
- God has used something so tragic to speak to people and he uses you everyday for his kingdom work. I love you and I am so proud of you
- Praise God! He's already using you in a mighty way! The awesome thing is that He's not even close to done...honored to call you friend!
- I watched you. I was there. You were so hurt. I can't believe you recovered and who you are now. We love you so much and are so proud of you.
- You are wonderful!
- Amazing.
- :)
- God is great! You show me that in so many ways.    
- Love you Tonya! Ur such an inspiration to others. Keep up the positive motivation that u give. God was by ur side that day and has never left! Keep striving! Keep living! Keep loving! 
- You're such an inspiration to many. I love your positivity!!! Love you sweet thing.
- God was  there!
- I'm so blessed to have met you- you are an inspiration:)
- Love you Tonya!
- Tonya you are such an amazing person. God has a purpose for everything.u R such a strong person. I admire you. You have never gave up. Ur a fighter!
- You are an amazing woman Tonya and anyone who has the privilege of knowing you is truly blessed :)
- I think of you often Missy and thanks a zillion for the Father's Day card! You sure know how to brighten my Day!
- You are an inspiration to so many!!!
- I was very blessed the day u came into my life love ya girl
- Was telling a volunteer about you today! Keep on keeping on!
- Oh God Bless you, Tonya. We rejoiced when you came home. He has moved in great and wonderful ways because of your life.
- You are a inspiration sweet lady!!! I'm blessed to call you a friend!!
- So powerful!
- You are such a blessing!
- We love you soooo much!!
- You are an amazing woman Tonya & such an inspiration to others! God has blessed us all with the gift of "You". Gods been there all along & will always be. Never give up!
- What a blessing you are. Your testimony, your life, is an inspiration to those watching - a picture of God's deliverance and purpose played out in you. I've loved getting to know you. May God continue to give you the boldness to share your story -- and comfort and peace in those moments you may struggle. Love you 
- You are awesome sweetie!!! God Bless You
- You are blessed and have been an inspiration to so many people. I want to thank you for what you do and believe this is your calling.
- Praise God for His kindness and love!!
- My anniversary of my accident was last week 6/12/08. After that accident I am now paralyzed from the neck down and require a ventilator to breathe. Your description of life after near-death experience is so beautifully put and accurate. God bless you my friend.
- May God continue to bless you, my love to all of you
- Bless sweet lady
- glad your still here and making a difference
- You are an inspiration for all of us
- You are an amazing person! Your out look on life and your spirit in outstanding! XXOO
- You've always been inspiring to me, Tonya.
- I would just like for my friends to know Tonya is an excellent example for all of us, words cannot describe how much I look up to her dearly and how much she has made me realize that EVERY SINGLE DAY we have on this earth is a gift from God. Tonya, I love you girly and I cannot wait to celebrate your 9th Anniversary of finding God's Purpose for you. I felt like I had to share this, because so many of us get so self centered at time, and we complain about nonsense. I have never heard anything but positivity come out of you and you truly do inspire me. Thank you for sharing your story with those around you at at speaking events, I hope by now you have realized how much light you radiate to this world and I am so glad you are spreading it. I am very blessed to have met you. See you soon girl!!!