Hello, my name is Tawana Williams. I know that my story will bless your viewers. I was born without arms in Wilson, NC. in 1963, due to the drug Thalidomide. The drug was given to pregnant women in the 1960’s to prevent morning sickness, but caused major birth defects in unborn babies. My mother was shocked when she saw me, her new baby, but she couldn’t help but love me.
My mother wrote a letter of desperation to the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. She needed to find a place for me to be trained to use my feet as hands, and we were poor. A couple of weeks later he wrote her back telling her of a place in Durham, NC. Called the Duke Cerebral Palsy Hospital, he told her to take me there, and that I would be taken care of. I was 11 ½ months old. I remained there for 4 ½ years.
During the summer just before the sixth grade, I begged mom to let me go to Public School. She was afraid for me, because she knew how mean and cruel others would treat me. Finally, she agreed, and she was right, I was picked on, laughed at, talked about, and humiliated on a daily basis for several years. I cried on the way home from school everyday.
In High School, the peer pressure was tough; all the kids that I wanted to be friends with were doing all the wrong things. It didn’t matter to me; I was willing to change from the good person that I was to fit in, by any means necessary. A so-called friend introduced me to marijuana, then to crack cocaine. The first time that I hit a crack pipe, it blew my mind, it made me forget that I didn’t have arms. I was hooked and for the next 10 years crack consumed me.
One day in August of 1991, after hitting rock bottom, I cried out to God and asked for help, I said to God, “kill me in my sleep, or deliver me from crack.” The next day, I was Free…
I am now on a mission to save the lives of people all around the world with my message of hope and inspiration. I have a daughter named April — my miracle child — who now has her own baby (see the video below to see how I fed her and changed her diaper using my feet). I authored a new book “Unarmed but Dangerous” which tells the poignant story of being born without arms, the miraculous birth of my daughter, and surviving the traumas of rape and drug addiction. Today, as an inspirational speaker, I encourage people to look beyond their circumstances and to accept God’s gift of freedom without limitations.
My Mentor and friend Les Brown wrote the foreword. I’m also a poet, an artist, (I draw with my feet), and a vocalist. I travel to schools, churches, nursing homes, prisons, colleges, universities, sororities, day cares, corporate arenas, etc. to change the lives of people, by letting them know just how blessed they really are.
I convey these three points to my audiences:
- Use what you’ve got
- Don’t complain
- Do it yourself (and they’ve always been encouraged!)
When Geri asked me to answer the question, “Would you have chosen to be ‘average’ at birth, if given the chance to change your circumstances,” I answered No.
I wouldn’t change my circumstances if I could, because I now know that I was created in God’s image, and everything that he created was good. Today I have a good life. Though I’ve gone through so many challenges and adversities, they have made me strong, and I know Who I am, and Whose I am.
My grandma told me something at the age of 4, that has kept me. She said “You must not have needed arms, because God didn’t give them to you.” WOW! What encouraging words, because that makes me EXTRAORDINARY.
Visit Tawana’s website to learn more and find her book.