I was born on Tuesday, April 27th, 1993. For nine years, I had a loving father with blonde long hair and blue eyes that loved life and fought addictions for his two daughters because the love he had was so strong, the addiction couldn't win. His name was Larry Duane Wade. When he passed, I hated the world, myself, and everyone around me and the only thing I had was drugs to keep the pain away. Everyday I wished that I could see him again and talk to him one last time.
On Tuesday, April 27, 2010, I set up the stage for a presentation that I thought was just another program that would attempt to shove statistics about drugs and alcohol down my throat and give me advice that I already learned the hard way. The presentation wasn't just a presentation to me, it was a life changing moment that I wished for for a very long time when a man came on stage that had long blonde hair, blue eyes, and fought addictions. After the presentation, I shook that mans hand and instead he gave me a hug that I thought that I wasn't ever going to have again. And I went to the library and I talked to the man that reminded me of my father and stayed as long as I could because I never knew if I would be able to live it ever again. On Tuesday, April 27, 2010, I am proud to say I met an angel name Tom, and feel as if I am, forever changed.
My name is Becca K. I wanted to thank you for coming into Central High School and sharing your life story, it really touched my heart. I really felt honored to be about to sit next to you in the Library at school and listen to you give advise to other students.It seems as if the whole school truly loves you. I could honestly say that you were the best assembly that I've seen in my 4 years at Central. I honestly can say that the students listened to what you had to say and believed it rather then just treating it as another drinking and driving assembly. You made it realistic and meaningful. Thanks for coming to our school again and I really hope to see you again in the future.
I would like to personally thank you for the wonderful presentation at Bay City Central today. I attempted to come to the Media Center to meet you but there was a group of students talking with you and I did not want to interrupt what you had going on with them. I was very impressed with your DVD and the no nonsense way that you spoke to the group. Thank you for sharing your life and your story with the "Full house" today. I wish you continued success in your life and in your mission to spread the word to kids. If you are ever in need of a reference, I would be more than happy to provide one.
-Kathy Cozad (parent)
I am a teacher here at Bay City Central and I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation today. I feel you reached the students on a level that few people can reach. Please keep up the great work. I know this gives your life great purpose. I would also encourage you to include a discussion of your cocaine addiction into your presentation. I know you are in recovery and I could tell it was more difficult for you to talk about, but I feel you could have a tremendous impact on young people if you talk about your experience. Thank-you for coming to our school and once again, great job and God bless you!
-Glenn Fitch, Chemistry
I met you last May at South Allegheny High School in Pennsylvania. You've really made a difference in my life. I struggle with an addiction that never leaves my mind and follows me at all times. About six years ago, I was going through a rough time in my life and discovered self-harming as my release from the issues surrounding me. I've now been cutting myself for about six years and I take it one day at a time. I've been in therapy for it but I wish I can find another solution to it. One bad behavior led to the next to a downhill spiral. I made so many mistakes that I wish I hadn't. I just want to try and learn from my mistakes to then not repeat them again. I'm now involved in several activities at school including being a Class Officer, Peer Helper, and in SADD. You're such an inspiration to me and I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to meet you.
Thanks so much for listening Tom, and please continue what you do. Thank you!!!
Hi! My name is Karen Garcia. I am a senior certified Prevention specialist in New Mexico. I just wanted to let you know that in the 16 yrs I have been doing prevention, your video is one of the best.
Tom, I doubt if you will remember me but you came to my school C-TEC & I asked you how to get my sister to stop drinking and driving.. well when I got home from school that day and when she got home, I made her sit down and watch your video she has not drove anywhere after she has been drinking! thank you!
Thank you for being a LIVING testament on why people should not drink and drive. My daughter is a junior at Shawnee Mission High School in Overland Park, KS. She came home from school to give me a very detailed recap of her assembly. She doesn't share much with me willingly and when she does it is because it is something that has touched her deeply.
I want to thank you again for having a positive attitude and taking the opportunity to use it to help others see and recognize the truth regarding drinking and driving. In fact, I can't say it enough. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
May the Lord be with you always and shower you with blessings galore.
Melanie White (parent)
You and your wife are amazing people, I love you both, you helped me and many others, and for that I wish you two the best. Love Always, Misty
Yeah, thanks for coming today =) what you said really got to me and I enjoyed listening to what you had to say, it put everything in a new perspective. I'm really going to think twice now.
Thanks so much for coming to talk to our school today. Your video, speech, and one on one talks touched a lot of people, and were all very inspiring. It was truly an eye opener for many of us.
Your speech at my school was amazing. You actually made some of my friends quick drinking because of your speech. When I seen the video of you in that accident, I was like how did you survive. But when the movie ended, I turned around to talk to a friend. When I turned back around, I was amazed you were there right in front of my face on the stage.
Your speech at Western High was absolutely phenomenal! You are by far the only person who touched my heart about drunk driving. A lot of people came into the school and talked about it, and it never really stuck me as much as your story did! After the video, I didn't expect you to be there, it was such a shocker. When I seen you out there on stage, I was very emotional because I didn't expect it at all. Your story was very inspiring, and my perspective about drinking and driving has changed dramatically. I respect all the changes you've made in your life. Thank you so much :)
Tom you are a really great guy and your story has changed my life and after meeting you i will never forget you. Thank you for your time at Bay City Central High School.
Just saw your presentation at Fort Sill, OK. Best presentation I have seen in the military, on said topic, ever. Thanks from the heart.
I am SGT Robinson from Lawton, OK. I want to say that your presentation today was inspirational, and I hope that you continue with what you are doing.
Hey. I was a soldier you seen today at Ft. Sill.......just wanted to say thanks for everything.
I just wanted to thank you for coming out to Ft. Sill and telling your story. I'm sure a lot of the guys may not admit it but I'm sure what you told will make them think twice before they get behind the wheel or when they decide to make plans to go out to the clubs. I like to drink on my weekends and I will admit that I once drove home drunk and the next day I told myself it would never happen again and it has not since then. I just wanted to let you know your doing a great service to everybody you talk to and you definitely made a difference in at least this Sgt.
Thank you very much. I was in the unit that you came to visit last Thursday. You have really opened my eyes on a lot of things. Thank you.
I just wanted to say thanks for talking with me. It helped a lot. Anyway thanks so much,
I just wanted to thank you for coming to Beau Chene and talking with us you are an inspiration and I told my family that I talked with u about my uncle and i said I felt I need to tell someone and u were the right person to tell that to... we will keep trying to help him. Thanks again Tom.
I just wanted to thank you for coming. You are an amazing person for taking your experiences and sharing them so other people don't make the same. Keep doing what you are doing. And thanks for listening to my problems. You really have helped me a lot. I told my dad that I thought he had a drinking problem, and he listened. Which is amazing, considering last time I told him, I got punished. Thank you so much. You really have made a difference in my life. You are one of my heroes.
Omg, Tom you are such a great speaker and I think by you talking to the kids at Beau Chene High will change alot of the ones that are doing the wrong things with their lives. so good luck and you did such an excellent job on today!
Good Job, Tom!!!
Tom you're a hero to me because you helped me finally talk about what I had went through and finally realizing I am not the only one struggling.
Hey I wanted to say thank you again for coming to Fennville and talking to us about your past I really liked it and I will never forget about that. Thank you.
Hey thank you so much for coming to Fennville High School today. You changed my life and you changed all my friends too. Thank you for sharing your experience and your words showed a lot of my friends to not drink and drive. You helped me and all my friends today. Thanks so much.
With much love,
I just wanted to write you and personally thank you for coming to my school (Plainwell, MI ). I was so excited to come to school the next day and see all the green wrist bands. I want you to know that you have changed my life so much. You really made me realize that I love my friends and family to much to drink. The bald guy in the suit always said, drinking and driving is taking a chance with your life. but its not, its not only a chance, it’s a guarantee, something bad will happen, the question is when. You’ve shown me all of this and I consider you as my life saver and guardian angel and now im Forever Changed. oh, and if you don’t remember, I’m the one who wrote you the poem, and I’ve been writing more to it so if you want the rest just ask. Maybe you can put it in your book too if you want. Also, im in a band who now likes to promote the straight edge life style, so if there is anything I personally can help you with or my band can help you with, just let me know. It would even be cool to have you at a show. But thanks again and stay in touch. God Bless.
Your Biggest Fan,
Hey wut up man. I dont know if you remember me but I was the last kid you talked to in the library at Plainwell High. I just wanted to thank you for everything you said to me and just know that you're appriciated by all of us. We love you mann keep on keepen on and always ride with god my brother.
My name is Alyssa from Plainwell High School, I just wanted to say thank you to you...you really changed my life and I think you made a really big impact on several other students at Plainwell.....It was amazing! You are of great character and learned the hard way but at least you're not just sitting there and feeling bad for yourself for what happened! You're actually taking the time to change many teenagers lives!!!! And believe me I really honestly think you changed alot of Plainwell High school students lives by just your video and speech alone! Do i thank you for that....it means alot.....thank you again!
Hey man, I just want to say thank u so much for coming to my school today. I didn't get a chance to talk to you but the point is that because of what u did today, you shaved off a couple of those kids that would have became a statistic. So again thank you so much and just keep doin what ur doing because u r saving lives.
Tom, I just wanted to say thank you. I do not drink and I do not intend to. You had a huge impact on my life. Thank you so much. It was very interesting today to hear your story and everyone else's.
I just want to thank you for coming to Oak Hills High School. It is completely awesome how much you touched all of us. The teachers and students alike say that you are the best motivational speaker to ever come into our school, and for me, any school I've attended. I stayed in the Media Center and waited for it to clear out a little so I could talk to you more personally, but that just wasn't happening.
I am sure you have received many responses on today’s assembly but I wanted to throw in my two cents too. It was a very heartfelt and touching story. It was funny to see the students’ attention and reaction triple when Tom presented himself after the video. It suddenly became a real story about a real person. Students were discussing and talking about it all day. I really feel like the message was received. Not to be dramatic but you may have just saved a life or two.
That was by far the most powerful (and hopefully effective) presentation I have seen in 13 years of teaching. You could hear a pin drop in there when Tom was talking and he really knew how to talk to teenagers. I think that many conversations will be going on throughout the day concerning his message.
I have heard nothing but great things from the students. The kids were very moved by the story and I know the message will weigh heavy on their hearts. I strongly believe that Tom made a difference and I am sure many kids heard him and will apply what they learned to their life.
In my 30 years of teaching, this presentation had the most impact. THANK YOU for the presentation.
-Sandy (Oak Hills High School)
Dear Tom & Kim
I bought your fantastic film for my work with people who get DUIs here in Toledo, OH. (I am a psychologist who works with alcoholism and drug abuse). I have to tell you both that it is the very BEST film for helping people think about and stop drinking . Everyone who I have shown the film to remarked about the tremendous impact it has had on them. One young man came in the week after he saw the film and said "Wow, I blew the same amount that he did when he had that accident. I have decided that I had more of a problem than I thought." Your sincerity and genuine caring for other people show in your talking during that movie. I think both of you are fantastic for doing such great work.
Marilyn in Toledo
I attended your presentation on Wednesday night at Plainwell High School along with my husband and 3 children ages 18, 16 & 14.
I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you for the message you are trying to get across to the teens of our area. I am happy to report that after talking with our children about your presentation our 16 year old said. "Wow, after seeing that I don't think I want to drink. I am very curious about it, but it's just not worth it." Way to go Tom!! Your message reached my children. THANK YOU!
Alcoholism is very prevalent in my family and I have talked about the dangers of alcohol and the abuse of alcohol to my children ever since they were young. I don't know if seeing the adverse effects first hand that drinking has had on some of our family members or whether or not my constant lecturing did any good. But I know for a fact that your words sunk in. Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!
Please keep up the good work. I will spread the word about your ministry to as many people as I can and hopefully you can get into every school in our area.
Hi! This is Arriel from Fort Cherry High School. I'm not sure if you'll remember because you must meet tons of people from high school's all the time. But, I just wanted to say that I really liked your presentation, the video and the fact that you were fun to talk to, and I really wanted to thank you. I have to say that you are a really AWESOME person ^-^. I will tell you right now that it was a great pleasure to meet someone who has conquered many of life's obstacles and has come out on top. You are a hero to me. Keep it up, you have already helped so many people just by being who you are and that means a lot.
My names Kyle and I'm a senior at west Allegheny high school. You came and spoke to my school about DUI. I just wanted to say thank you for coming in. Not only did I enjoy you making little jokes about Sgt. Bates loll but before you came I had plans to drink after prom with a couple of my buddies and not only did I choose not to do any driving after I drank... but I chose not drink at all. Just wanted to say thank you Tom.
~P.S your def a bada** and an awesome guy.
My name is Lynsey. You were recently at my high school (West Allegheny) talking to us about your accident. I thanked you there but I didn't feel that that I had the time to really tell you how much I appreciated you being there.You are a phenomenal person in so many way. What you deal with and do everyday and to teach us teenagers and children a lesson is remarkable. My mother has problems with alcohol so I do see the effects it takes on families first hand. You have impacted my life in so many ways that I really don't even have all the words to thank you. I am sure that you get many of these thank you notes but it is truly from the bottom of my heart, your DVD is unbelievable, your visit to our school made me cry, laugh and just realize how lucky we all really are. You have became one of my heroes for all that you do. Your son is very lucky to have you as a father. In reality, I don't even know if this is enough to thank you but I just wanted you to know how much having you as a speaker was a appreciated, and I really hope that you were able to reach everyone in that auditorium today, because like you said you weren't that bald guy in that white suit telling us it can happen. You have experienced it and lived through it. Your life is a blessing and we were all blessed to have you there today! Thank you so much!
Hi, my name is Jina. I met you today when you came to my high school, Fort Cherry High School. I just wanted to say that your story was really inspirational and that I admire your will power to rise above it all and to help others.
I'm Taylor from Hastings High School. That was an amazing assembly. We've had some where a guy comes out and says some stuff but I really didn't expect you to come out. I had my mom watch the video on your web page and it made her cry..but she liked it.
I am the security guard from Kearsley High School. Tom's message was effective with our prom. Many of our students actually changed their drinking plans for prom night and it was one of the best prom's anyone can remember. And nobody was injured and no trouble occurred. Thank you again for the positive impact you had on our kids....they did listen. God Bless you both for the difference you are making in these kids lives. It is clear that you care and are sincere, and kids pick up on that in a heart beat. Keep up the great work!!
I go to Kearsley high school And I just wanted to tell you thanks for taking time to come to our school and tell your story. Its Something a lot of people need to hear and I think its amazing that you take Your personal time to tell everyone about it. It touched so many people and I think it really made us think, Really think. Well I just wanted to say thanks.
Kim & Tom,
Tom's presentation was the talk of the school even still today. Many teachers and students claimed that it was one of the most meaningful assemblies they have seen. Actually our staff was e-mailing each other all day saying how moving and heart felt the presentation was.
Again thanks for caring for our kids. If the message changed even just one life it was the best hour of time we have spent with them this year. I hope your Spring goes well and you guys have a good summer. We will keep in touch and we look forward to having you back in the future.
Philip Martin (Kearsley High School, Flint, MI)
"I'm a senior at Kearsley High School. I saw you speak today and I wanted to let you know that your story truly impacted me. I talked to other students about it and they felt the same way. Speaking from some experience, my great-grandmother, grandfather, and uncle are alcoholics. I have seen the negative effects that alcohol does to people's lives, especially my mother whose dad and brother are the alcoholics. I want you to know I will give you more than just a contract saying I won't drink and drive but I will sincerely give you my word. I want you to know that it's a great thing that you do this in high school's because we've all been to assembly's before where the cop tells us not to drink and drive or there's a really boring movie. But what you presented at KHS today was something personal, that kids can related to. I just hope you keep doing this because you DO have a impact on these people. Your story is very personal that student'! s can relate to and very sincere. Thank you for being able to share it with the school. Also, I want to say that I'm sorry about what happened to you. But I'm a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. Maybe because this happened to you, you are now able to save even more lives by sharing your story...If that makes sense. I hope you had a good day at Kearsley. I wish I could have met you and told you all this in person but unfortunately I had class and lots of work to do today. Take care!"
I wanted to express my thanks and gratitude for your visit here at the Wayland Union Middle School. I went to a staff meeting after you left, and the feedback from the teachers was very positive. I hope that we can do something in the community in the near future. Looking forward to seeing you again. God bless
- Sharon Berg, WUMS Guidance Counselor
I was one of the students attending the 2008 PALS conference today (4/2/08). I would for one like to say thank you for coming. The story was amazing and i felt it taught me and my peers a life lesson. I enjoyed the video so much. It really is an inspiration and I learned so much. Thank you again for being there. God Bless you all.
Thank you sooo much for coming to our school today (RPMS). I talked to you after 1st hour on Wednesday...your story was amazing and talking about Aaron and Shawn made me bawl and really hit home. Like I said, just growing up in a similar environment and everything it just really hit home. Thanks so much.
Today, you came to my school (Reeths-Puffer Middle School), and I just had to thank you for sharing your story with me and my classmates this morning. Man, Jesus must have been watching out for you the day of your accident. Thanks so much for telling your story. I've decided I'm never going to drink and drive.
-Dani from RPMS
My mom, step dad, sister, and niece saw you and talked to you at Reeths-Puffer High School on Thursday night. On Friday, I heard from all of them how emotional the night was. My sister told me she started crying from the minute your movie started and had a difficult time composing herself all night long. Several things she talked about really moved me; enough to write this email.
We never know what God has in store for us. But I think that this is what God had in store for you. What you're doing is awesome; sharing tragedy to help stop future tragedy. I very well could have been in your shoes. People that you are meeting will probably tell you that there isn't a problem with under age drinking in school. They are so wrong. If it was happening when I was a teenager, it certainly is happening now.
Anyway, what I wanted to tell you is....Do Not Stop! Someday, my son could be in your situation and I hope that he remembers the things you said.
God Bless You!
Tami (Ward) Caughey
Hi Tom and Kim,
I had the opportunity to hear you speak at the Keystone Oaks High School Assembly on Mach 18, 2008. I attended not only as a representative of Godleski Insurance Agency, (Erie Insurance) but as a mother of a senior and sophomore attending KO High School.
Your story weighed heavy on my heart and as I sat beside your loving wife Kim, I reached out to hold her hand to give her support only to find that Kim was the one supporting me.
Your story, be it sad and tragic, has impacted my son and daughter in a most positive way. I am grateful that both of my children had the opportunity to hear your story and meet you in person after the assembly. Please continue to tell your story, it is one that I believe will reach the youth of today and have a direct impact on them. My son was impacted by your frank, honest story and liked the fact that you did not sugar coat anything. You told the students that you caused your own fate in life and you explained to them what your daily life is like now. I believe you have left a lot of students at KO thinking twice about decisions they have made or will be making down the road.
Tom, I know that you have already changed three lives, mine and my children. God Bless you and Kim and your families. Continue down the road which God has called you to take knowing that you are making a difference. I hope our paths will cross again soon.
Bernice L. Born
"Hey Tom! This is Brittany Stewart we met at Keystone Oaks High School in PA..We are the ones who had that SADD show with actually me playin the role of the person who died in the "drunk driving accident". You are one of the most powerful speakers I have ever seen and I know I told you this there but you and your story really impacted me and im sure alot of kids from my school! THANKS AGAIN!!!!"
"My name is Cassie. I am currently a senior at West Ottawa High School, and I just wanted to say that it was fricken awesome that you came and talked to our school. Some of the students are to immature to understand what you were saying but for the rest of us, it gave us a very true look at what driving drunk can do. I just wanted to thank you very much and your movie touched me in more ways than one. Thanks again."
"When I first watched Forever Changed I was brought to tears because it is so powerful. Tom is honest, down to earth and shares his story with courage and humility that is uncommon to see." -Cindy Neihardt MA, Clinical Supervisor, OAR Inc
"Forever Changed is a powerfully moving film capable of initiating a life change in its viewers. The film is a must see for every teen, parent, educator, medical provider...the entire community. It moved me to tears and...action." -Eileen Nordstrom, President, Board of Directors, OAR (Ottagon Addictions Recovery)