Life can be rough, but one woman in Sulphur Springs has had a year that has left her with little hope for the future. After a series of life-changing events, Taz McWilliams has been left paralyzed and without a vehicle while taking care of two handicapped children and is doing everything she can to pay the bills. Emotionally brought to tears over what has happened, McWilliams is not sure every story has a silver lining.
"There are times in your life where you feel likes it’s the last straw," said McWilliams. "After so much, I don't even know what to believe in anymore."
McWilliams worked for years as a truck driver and spent her free time volunteering for non-profit organizations around Hopkins County like Kiwanis Club.
"I love to work with children and individuals with special needs," said McWilliams. “If someone needed a volunteer, I wanted to help.”
Several years ago, she met special needs adult siblings Tonya and Don Handorf. Both were middle-aged but needed constant care, and McWilliams wanted to help them live the best life they could. Williams adopted Tonya and began going through the same process for Don.
“I found out Tonya was being abused, so I went to a lawyer and got her out of that home. I then found out about Don and realized he needed just as much help. Adoption is a responsibility for a lifetime, but they are my children now,” McWilliams said.
As McWilliams bonded with her new family, tragedy stuck.
“I remember taking Tonya out to eat at Furr's Cafeteria with some of our friends. I was helping Tonya off the curb with her walker, as we were leaving, and an 81 year-old-woman ran me over with her car,” said McWilliams. “I remember reacting and shoving Tonya as hard as I could out of the way before getting hit by the car. My before getting hit by the car. My friends grabbed Tonya, but I was completely ran over.”
McWilliams woke up in the hospital with no feeling in her legs. She had been paralyzed from the waist down and was outfitted with a colostomy bag.
“I have had several lawyers try to take the case but have turned me down. Now my friends are helping me work through everything,” she said. “I am still trying to adopt Don, but it is so much harder now to create a stable home environment with my disabilities."
McWilliams had to quit her job and go on supplemental security income. She now makes half of what she used to make and still has to take care of Don and Tonya. Medicaid provides a home health nurse who comes from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays. McWilliams is unable to cook and stuggles with everyday tasks, like reaching into cabinets, without severe pain.
While still emotionally dealing with her disability, her situation became much more difficult last Wednesday, when a tree crashed down on her minivan, totaling the vehicle.
"We have been contacting our landlord for several months. We told him a tree in our front yard was pulling tighter against our power lines and some of the roots were coming up. We began trying to park farther back in our driveway but he came out last week and told us the tree looked just fine," said McWilliams. “After the accident, the landlord told me that if he took seriously every time someone complained about a tree on a property, there would not be any trees left.”
"Thank God we had insurance on the van, but it looks likes my insurance company is not going to give me enough money to buy what I had," said McWilliams.
Currently stranded at home, McWilliams hopes there are no more difficulties looming around the corner.
"It feels like every step I take forward, there is something that blocks me and slaps me in the face," said McWilliams. "It is tough to keep it together sometimes and make sure I am calm around my kids. I have to wear a mask that everything is OK, but it’s not."
McWilliams and her family have a uncertain future, but her insurance company is scheduled to look at the vehicle next week.