If you need an inspirational boost, a quick conversation with Wings for Life World Run ambassador Tiphany Adams does wonders. As a high school senior, she survived a horrific car crash — the fault of a drunk driver — that took the lives of three people. Adams was left with a spinal cord injury but she used it as a transformative event to heighten her already positive outlook and focus her driven mentality.
She arrived at the World Run in Santa Clarita, California, in 2015 to help extend media awareness of the event, but had no plans to participate. Later that day, however, she took top female honors for the wheelchair category, logging 8.26 miles before the Catcher Car caught up with her. She started working with a trainer on a comprehensive fitness program late last year and now has a goal to compete at bodybuilding events in the Physique division, and as always, she wants to inspire others and offer any help she can along the way.
She will return to Santa Clarita on May 8 to continue to educate the world about spinal cord injury, help raise funds to find a cure, and set a new personal best on the course. Read more about Adams in the Q&A below.
WFLWR.com: Tell us about last year. Why did you decide at the last minute to participate?
Tiphany Adams: I had been invited to do a press interview to help spread awareness [of the event], and of course I was elated to be able to do that. I had no intention of participating. I was at Jesse (Billauer)’s house that evening to watch the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight so we ended up driving to the event at 3 a.m. When I got to the event it was incredible; there was so much energy and zest. I saw all of these people who were super pumped to be a part of it, and I started thinking, “Even though you haven’t trained for this, if it’s going to bring awareness for a good cause, why would you not do it?” So I did, and I ended up doing okay, I guess (laughs).
Not many people are fully educated and understand how common spinal cord injury is. So during the race, that’s what I was thinking — I’ll do anything to help educate people, and this was on a global front with the event happening in 35 different locations around the world at one time.
Once I make up my mind about something, I’m bound and determined to go full force. That’s just the person I am.
Was your performance in the event a surprise to you?
I’m the type of person who never gives up — I just don’t. Once I make up my mind about something, I’m bound and determined to go full force. That’s just the person I am. I knew I could complete the race, but it surprised me that I won. I cried because I couldn’t believe it.
I wasn’t prepared for it at all, I had no gloves and my hands were bleeding at the end. But when I’m doing something beyond myself, it’s more motivating. When I’m doing it for a great cause, something I’m passionate about and I know it’s going to help humanity as a whole, that’s what drives me and gets my true determination to fully persevere.
Do you have a different approach to the event this year?
I didn’t even have an approach last year (laughs). This year, I’m actually training for it. But it’s not about winning, it’s about changing people’s lives.
Will you be participating with more people this year?
I’m really excited because I get to create Team Tiphany Adams! This is just a huge movement and to be a part of it, I’m very grateful.
So we’ve seen that you’re getting even deeper into the world of fitness, tell us about that.
I’ve always been in the fitness world; right after my accident I worked at a gym for four years. But I never incorporated the nutrition aspect. I gradually started eating healthier throughout the years and I knew what was good and what wasn’t, but now that I have a coach, the game has changed. He trains top athletes in bodybuilding, and I’ve learned so much about challenging myself. I’ve learned how strong I really am — now I can lift more than my own body weight. I didn’t know that would be possible.
I wasn’t going to compete, but now that’s something I’m working toward — doing a fitness competition in the bodybuilding world. There have been a lot of men doing it, but women — in chairs in particular — haven’t been too involved. A lot of the girls think they can’t lift weights because they’re going to get huge and that’s really not the case. I feel so many women identify their femininity or their beauty with curves instead of overall strength and capability. A lot of people identify only with the exterior. When you’re training, you have to dig deep and pull out that strength and determination that you can only find inside yourself.
I want to inspire by simply living life happy, because every single day truly is a blessing, and many people take that for granted.
When do you plan to start competing?
We’re working on that, because there have been pro cards for men but there hasn’t been a huge thing for the women yet. This year is definitely the goal, though. I want to coach more people into the sport too. I know what it’s like to train in a chair; I’ve learned many techniques with what works and what doesn’t when you train while you’re sitting.
The clients who’ve reached out to me are from all walks and rolls of life. Some trainers are apprehensive to work with people who — in their eyes — are differently-abled. I see it just as a person who was born with CP, or born with spina bifida. I know what people’s capabilities are depending on the condition, and I’m not afraid to work with clients of diversity.
You’re an inspiration to people of all abilities; is that something that’s important to you?
I’m just living life to the fullest of my capabilities and loving humanity. I always say to be a light unto those lost in darkness — that’s one of my favorite sayings. Because everybody can get lost in despair and lose hope. I just like to be that little glimpse of hope to people so they know that no matter what they’re going through they can get through it. I want to inspire by simply living life happy, because every single day truly is a blessing, and many people take that for granted. It shouldn’t be that way because tomorrow is not promised.
Some people look at my situation and say, “Oh, that is so tragic,” but I prefer to look at it as something that is transformational. I went through a metamorphosis. I have this tattoo on my rib that says “Death to a caterpillar is just birth to a butterfly.” That’s how I look at it. We’re always going through transformation; you can either choose to evolve or remain stagnant.
Interested in Tiphany’s coaching expertise? Get more info on her Facebook page.