Tom Ufert

Published on: August 2013

In his words - "I am a 47-year-old quadriplegic afflicted with 3 different disabilities and am considered by some to be an inspirational voice during troubled times. I received my double BA degree in political science and his-tory as a scholarship recipient from Centenary College of Louisiana. Additional education includes graduate studies as a former Rotary International graduate Fellow at Australian National University in Canberra, ACT, specializing in East Asian political affairs. Some awards in my original career path include a White House Fellow nominee, a former Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern and constituency aid for two former United States members of Congress. Furthermore, my past services for 11 political campaigns on both sides of the aisle were highly valued by former Louisiana Governor Charles "Buddy" Roemer, Henson Moore, the former assistant chief of staff to U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush and the present U.S. Trade Ambassador, Ron Kirk. At the age of 23, I was the youngest artistic board chair-man in the United States as head of the Shreveport Summer Music Festival, and have served as a member of two other 501(c) charity boards and the community advisory board of my former rehabilitation hospital. In recent years, I have worked tirelessly as a volunteer fundraiser for numerous AIDS charities in my North Texas community and served briefly as the community affairs liaison for Legacy Founders Cottage."
tom ufert,quadriplegic
Introduce us to your work whereabouts

Due to my physical challenges and the bouts of fatigue they cause, working in a normal 9 to 5 job isn't feasible. Past work experiences include hotel food and beverage, pharmaceutical, home security, insurance industries. I have spent the last 2 years working from home as an aspiring author with 2 books published and one becoming an Amazon Best-Seller. Throughout much of the time charitable fundraising has always been a major priority.

What are the challenges that you faced in this journey of success?

Definitely surviving my 3 disabilities of Multiple Sclerosis, incomplete spinal fracture and HIV have been challenging. Each is life altering but suffering. Their initial onsets within 3 months in 1992 were particularly difficult. My first book, Adversity Builds Character describes the numerous challenges that I faced in my life including a broken home, adoption, sexual abuse, numerous addictions and even a mercy killing suicide involving my mother. Yet I've survived and grown stronger from them believing in myself, the support of others and the grace of God.

How have you fought against the odds of life?

Though my participation in religious institutions has declined, my faith in God has grown stronger. I consider myself a strongly spiritual person and definitely know that I am blessed. Furthermore, the love and support of others in my life has continuously redirected my path when I've strayed down darker roads. Realizing that life is both short and precious has dramatically helped me deal with life's stumbling blocks. One of the quotes from my 2nd book, On The Roll Again Reads, "My life's not so bad...I've got a roof over my head, food in my gut, clothes on my back, a little money in the bank to get by on, friends who care, and people who love me. Really, what else matters?" A strong positive mental attitude has been my number one saving grace.

Have you ever felt like giving up? If yes, in which point of life and why?

The first few days in October, 1992 after being diagnosed with MS in August, suffering the spinal fracture from a car wreck in September and then being diag-nosed with HIV+ were difficult. Lying nearly paralyzed in my rehab hospital bed with nothing but my thoughts and prayers to console me was the moment when giving up was most prevalent. Yet the memory of my mom's fight with MS and seeing what happens when the human spirit gives up strengthened me. I was emboldened to "Never Surrender!" I am convinced that divine inspiration coupled with undying love and support from others in my life spurred me to carry on.
tom ufert,quadriplegic
Since when are you writing? How many books have you authored so far?

I have authored 2 books and have stridently been a writer for just over 2 years. I did begin writing my 1st book over 10 years ago. Foolish and stupid mistakes caused me to get misdirected. That is another story and shall be described in my 3rd book, which I am working on now. Hopefully it will be released early next year.

Who is your inspiration? How do you define inspiration in your words?

My mom, Gloria Ufert, and my Godmother/"adopted" grandmother, Joy Campbell are my inspirations. My 1st book was dedicated to them. In addition, my life partner from 13 years, Lester Van Huss for whom I'm dedicating my 3rd book has been highly supportive. Each of these individuals has filled my life with unconditional love that helped me overcome life altering events. For me inspiration is the powerful force that gives your life purpose and meaning. It is the breakthrough words, art, music and life experiences that make you realize that there is something bigger than yourself worth fighting for, worth living for, or maybe even sacrificing your life to defend.

What are the best feedbacks that you have received so far, to mention some as a motivational speaker?

"You give me the hope that I can survive!", "If you can survive all that you've been through, then I can do it too", "Your story is amazing and the fact that you've kept such a positive attitude proves that miracles do happen", "I don't know if I could survive the adversities you've overcome, but you've certainly shown that it's possible"

What are the common questions that you come across when you face new crowd each time?

"How did you manage to stay so positive?", "How is your health now?", "Do you really donate a percentage of every book sold to charity?", "Where do you find the time with your physical limitations to do so much?", "You seem to find humour in the darkest places and in many ways laugh at your own disabilities. Does humour really help you make it through?"

What is that one biggest lesson that Tom Ufert has learnt as an author in his life?

Firstly, writing isn't nearly as difficult as promoting. It's a full time job that can seriously get in the way of writing. Secondly, you can't allow flattery and success to change you. At times, they can be blinding and deceptive, but you must always remember two essential things. One, don't believe everything that you hear. There are some people out there who will use you at the drop of an idle compliment. Two, never forget that your success is never guaranteed and always comes on the shoulders of others who believe in you and support your efforts. BE HUMBLE AND GRATEFUL!

I'm a living proof of 2 immutable facts. One, your life can change in a split second, don't take it for granted. Two, miracles happen every day, if you only take the time to see them. The human spirit has survived millennia of war, natural disaster, famine, disease, and a plethora of adversities. We're still here. Men, women and children have created great works of art, music, scientific miracles, led movements of social change, and helped in varying degrees to make the human race a noble species. YOU ARE A PART OF THAT LEGACY that makes up the colourful tapestry that is humanity. There is nothing that the human spirit cannot adapt to, overcome, and successfully deal with if it so desires. YOU HAVE TO WANT IT BAD ENOUGH. Accept your limitations, and adapt to ever changing circumstances never forgetting that you do make a difference!
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