Tom Ufert, a 46-year-old quadriplegic afflicted with three different disabilities is an inspirational voice in our troubled times. He received his bachelor of arts in political science and history as a scholarship recipient from Centenary College of Louisiana. Tom is a former Rotary International graduate Fellow who attended Australian National University in Canberra, ACT, specializing in East Asian political affairs and was a White House Fellow nominee. He is a former Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern and constituency aid for two former United States members of Congress. His 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 age 23 he was the youngest artistic Board Chairman in the United States as head of the Shreveport Summer Music Festival. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital. Over the years he has acquired extensive customer service experience in the food and beverage, hotel, insurance, home security, and pharmaceutical industries. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital. His professional memberships include Phi Alpha Theta, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Worldwide Who’s Who. In recent years he has worked tirelessly as a volunteer fundraiser for numerous AIDS charities in his community and served briefly as the community affairs liaison for Legacy Founders Cottage. Tom Ufert, a native of Louisiana, now resides in Texas.
I am a disabled man, I am a gay man, I am a proud man. I have made mistakes in my life, but haven’t we all? Making mistakes is part of life; it helps define who we are. Therein lies the key to it all. I have taken ownership of my mistakes and have turned them into learning experiences. Mistake is not a word we should use to indicate a negative. Every ‘mistake’ is nothing but an opportunity to learn.
The very first thing we should do is learn that we have the chance to define our lives. Every day is a chance to learn and further develop ourselves. Sure, times are hard, people are working harder, longer, but we have become a society that loves to complain. Not me.
Sure, I didn’t want to be diagnosed as having MS. I cried when I woke from a car accident to hear that I would never walk again, and I felt mortified when my doctors told me that I had HIV; but do you know something? I got over it. I refused to allow myself to be defined by such things. I have a life to live, and I intend to do it.
I have been blessed in my life. I feel blessed every day, for I have been given the gift of life. Too many people waste it, or fritter it away, lost and unable to face what surrounds them. With my book ‘Adversity Builds Character’ I hope to help others see the beauty in life, the richness of the world around them.
In writing my story, I hope to provide people with these learning experiences, yet also save them from having to experience the negative space that often surrounds such life occurrences. Adversity does indeed build character, and while I believe people need to make mistakes in order to grow, I hope that through my writing I can show people that whatever comes along, we always have the opportunity to turn it into something good.
When I wake up in the morning, I smile and greet the day. I take the medication I need to take, I transfer myself into my wheelchair, and I busy myself living life, because I will not allow my past, my mistakes, to define who I will become. Sure, I can no longer do all of the things I used to be able to do, but the world is a great and wonderful place, and it is full of opportunities. We just need to open our eyes and see them when they are there.
Thank you for joining us today on this stage of the Tom Ufert blog tour. We hope that you will join us tomorrow where we visit the home of Fiona McVie for exclusive interview with Tom.