TAKING THE STAIRS
Tiana Tozer has been speaking for more than 20 years, sharing her story with teens across the United States and Canada encouraging them to make responsible choices and take responsibility for choices they make, good and bad.
In 1988, Tiana’s life changed when an intoxicated driver ran a stop sign and hit the car in which she was riding. She spent more than a month in intensive care, endured more than 30 surgeries, and spent four years learning to walk again.
Since then Tiana’s life has been about exceeding limitations she went on to become a Paralympic athlete, activist, University of Oregon’s 2010 Outstanding Young Alumni and a humanitarian aid worker in Iraq and Sudan. And because she’s overcome tremendous odds and perceived limitations, she challenges young people to do the same – reject constraints others may place on them.
With her personal story and humor, she encourages teens to look beyond the label, question their complacency towards the legal drug of alcohol, and helps young people understand that some choices are forever.
Tiana Tozer was born in Eugene, Oregon and raised on a farm outside of Boise, Idaho. After a fairly normal childhood, Tiana went to college at the University of Oregon.
In her sophomore year, Tiana was run over by an intoxicated driver. She spent a month and five days in intensive care and has undergone 34 surgeries. After four years of struggling to walk, Tiana learned that a wheelchair would become a permanent part of her life.
While doctors worked on her physically, Tiana worked to heal herself emotionally by sharing her experiences with high school students throughout Oregon.
She went on to graduate school at the University of Illinois where she played wheelchair basketball. In her sport, Tiana holds four national titles, a silver medal from the Barcelona Paralympics and a bronze medal from Atlanta. In 1993 she graduated from the University of Illinois with a MA in International Relations.
Tiana always thought she would grow up to be ambassador to France, but like everything else in her life, it didn’t quite go as planned.
Her dream of an international career was broadsided at age 20 when an intoxicated driver ran a stop sign and hit the car in which she was riding. She spent a month and five days in intensive care and after 34 surgeries and four years she learned to walk again.
Since that fateful afternoon in 1988, Tiana’s story has taken a positive turn. She was a member of USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team chosen to compete in theAtlanta and Barcelona Paralympics where she brought home the silver and bronze medals.
Tiana’s story and activities have drawn media attention; she has been interviewed numerous times for her work to eradicate drinking and driving, to her sports and her public speaking. In 1990, she was the subject of a documentary “The Tiana Tozer Story.” She has presented to thousands of teenagers across the U.S. on responsible choices and self-esteem and spoken to hundreds of groups nationwide including the Society of Human Resource Management, the Securian sales conference and Special Olympics Oregon. More recently she was featured on MSNBCs Making a Different segment and National Public Radio’s Here And Now. In 2010 she was recognize as University of Oregon’s outstanding young alumni. Most recently she was keeping a somewhat lower profile working as a humanitarian aid worker in the middle of a civil war in Sudan.
Tiana was first published nationally in 2006 on Starbucks Cup #83. Her short story “Satan’s Performance Review” was published by The Wittenburg Door in the October 2007 issue. She is the author of numerous, brilliant, but as yet undiscovered essays and she writes a pretty good annual Christmas letter.
Currently, she is working on her memoir and collecting rejection letters, which she hopes to one day paper her second bathroom with — actually it’s going to be a half-bath.
Tiana loves to ski and travel. She spent her formative years on a farm in Boise, Idaho where she acquired the little-known and even less appreciated skill of hypnotizing chickens.
Tiana Tozer travels from Oregon